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Controls Close To Knocking Out Salmonella Among Danes

Now if Denmark could just keep those traveling Danes at home, it could cut its already low incidents of Salmonella almost in half.

Last year just 1,166 Danes experienced confirmed cases of Salmonella and almost half of those cases involved travelers to Egypt, Thailand, and Turkey.

With just 21 Salmonella cases recorded for every 100,000 people in Denmark during 2011, the rate was one of the lowest experienced by developed countries and the lowest Danes have experienced since the 1980s.

After Salmonella spiked upward in Denmark in the 1990s, the Nordic nation implemented some of the world’s toughest controls on Salmonella. For example, if environmental samples in a laying house are positive for Salmonella, Denmark assumes the flock is also contaminated.

Academic evidence has shown the effectiveness of the controls -supported by the Danish meat and poultry industries – for the past decade.

In 2011, Denmark experienced the lowest number of reported cases since the controls were implemented. Only 293 Danes experienced Salmonella Enteritidis (SE), and 70 percent of those cases were attributed to eating outside Denmark. Most SE cases are related to eating uncooked eggs.

Denmark prohibits selling fresh eggs from Salmonella-positive egg laying flocks, a ban now imposed throughout the European Union (EU). Denmark requires imported eggs to be Salmonella free, according to Birgitte Helwigh, a National Food Institute researcher.

Further, not a single Dane was infected with Salmonella from eating Danish chicken in 2011.  Denmark has seen its cases of Salmonella sourced to chicken fall to zero after steady declines over several years.

And no Salmonella outbreak – an event in which two or more people fall ill from the same source –  was linked to any other meat in Denmark.

Among the sporadic cases of Salmonella, the source was most often Danish pork.  And these declined to 7.4 percent in 2011, down from 16.4 percent in 2010.

Imported pork accounted for 5.4 percent of the 2011 cases, about the same as in 2010.

Danish authorities could not determine the food source of 1 in 4 of the cases. In those instances, foods not regularly checked for Salmonella, like fruits and vegetables, were likely responsible.

Helwigh says Denmark’s two decades worth of effort to reduce Salmonella on farms and slaughterhouses is now being helped by the EU’s focus on broiler and egg-laying flocks. “The continued effort has resulted in a decrease in the number of human salmonella cases in Denmark, which is very encouraging,” she said.

© Food Safety News
  • husna aijaz

    The tough control measures adopted by Denmark’s meat and poultry industry to reduce/eliminate human Salmonellosis can compute as a gain in health care dollars/diminished need for food safety funding in the US, if we implement similar strategies for our food/agricultural industries.

  • Mike Johnson

    Good job Danes!
    In Canada, 2008 incidence was around 19/100 000.
    Travel related SE accounts for just over 50%, and most other SE is blamed on chicken or eggs without actual confirmation. Although Health Canada sees it as a problem, I am sure the money can be better spent somewhere else.

  • Minkpuppy

    Salmonella will have to be declared an adulterant before the US will adopt the Dane’s strategies.
    When over 50% of the chicken samples can fail in a chicken plant and still pass a Salmonella series, it’s obvious that it’s not taken seriously by FSIS. We already know what happens with US eggs–basically nothing. Is DeCoster in jail yet?