FARM INTERVENTIONS CASE STUDY 4: Pre-harvest interventions in different European countries: Campylobacter and Salmonella case (role of competent authorities and science)

Introduction by: Carla Gomes

Changes in legislation regulating the control of foodborne diseases should be evidence-based. Science has a key role to play in supporting and providing evidence for Competent Authorities (CAs) decisions. At European Union (EU) level, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has produced several scientific opinions for the control of Campylobacter in broiler meat (EFSA, 2011, 2020), Salmonella in eggs/turkey (EFSA, 2012, 2014, 2019) and in pigs (EFSA, 2010). These documents have been influential in shaping the EU foodborne policy. For example, research and EFSA scientific opinion (EFSA, 2011, Vose et al, 2010) regarding control of Campylobacter, resulted in the introduction of a regulatory Process Hygiene Criteria (PHC) for Campylobacter in the EU (EU, 2017). The numbers of Campylobacter cannot exceed 1,000 cfu/g in samples of broiler carcasses (neck skin) after chilling, with a maximum of 20 out of 50 consecutive samples allowed to exceed this limit for only marginal result (n = 50, c = 20). In January 2020 (EU, 2017), a stricter sampling plan and PHC has been introduced. Poultry slaughterhouses across the EU have to follow requirements where the number of Campylobacter spp. can exceed 1,000 cfu/g in 50 consecutive samples of broiler carcasses (neck skin), only in maximum of 15 samples (n = 50, c = 15). From 1st January 2025 the criteria will change to allow only a maximum of 10 samples (n=50, c=10).

In this workshop, we will discuss the role of CAs and science in shaping pre-harvest interventions for Campylobacter and Salmonella in different European countries and the strategies adopted by each country to control these foodborne pathogens. We will focus in Campylobacter control in poultry and Salmonella control in pigs (Correia-Gomes et al, 2021), as there is not any EU coordinated control programmes to address these pathogens.

Structure of the workshop

First, the participants will receive a lecture by Carla about the role of science in supporting CAs work. Then, each participant is expected to provide an overview of how science and CAs have shaped pre-harvest interventions in place for Campylobacter and/or Salmonella in their own country. Thirdly, the participants will join a common virtual room to compare and discuss their findings with each other. Finally, the participants will present what they have learnt regarding the role of CAs and science in pre-harvest interventions using a 15-minute presentation.

Questions to address during your own work

  1. What control programmes are in place in your country for the control of Campylobacter in broilers and/or Salmonella in pigs? In case no programme for these pathogens is in place in your country please suggest a programme.
  2. Describe those programmes briefy focusing in pre-havest interventions.
  3. Have these programmes been set up by the CA, industry, both?
  4. What is the programme coverage?
  5. What have these programmes achieved? E.g. reduction of prevalence at farm level, slaughter level, etc.
  6. What is the role of the CA in these programmes?
  7. How the programmes could be improved?
  8. What gaps have been identified?
  9. How science can help fill those gaps?

Homework & preparation

To address the 9 questions, the participants are asked to collect information from their own country prior to the workshop.

Discussion in workshop

During the workshop, we will discuss:

  • the differences and similarities between countries in workshop;
  • how current programmes could be improved;
  • how can countries learn from each other on this topic.