The European Commission has called for feedback on the draft of a regulation concerning Salmonella testing and sampling in poultry.

Comments on the draft act can be made until Aug. 16. To read the draft and file comments, please click here to visit the official website.

The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF) discussed the draft, which would amend European Union (EU) regulation numbers 200/2010, 517/2011, 200/2012 and 1190/2012, at a meeting last month. The committee includes representatives of all member states and is led by a European Commission representative.

The regulations involved set sampling and testing requirements necessary to ensure harmonized monitoring of EU target levels for Salmonella in poultry populations that are detailed in regulation (EC) 2160/2003. Until the end of 2021, food business operators may apply the methods referred to in the four regulations.

“Representative sampling for the control of Salmonella in flocks of laying hens and breeding hens of Gallus gallus is not always practical in colony cage houses and non-cage multi-tier houses with manure belts between each tier, which are increasingly used for the housing of these birds,” according to the draft regulation.  

“It is therefore appropriate to allow an alternative sampling procedure, providing a practical solution for sampling these flocks whilst maintaining at least equivalent sensitivity to current sampling procedures.”

There were 94,530 human cases of salmonellosis reported in the EU in 2016. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has estimated the overall economic burden of human salmonellosis could be as high as €3 billion ($3.5 billion) a year.

The four EU regulations cited above state that use of alternative methods is limited to food business operators.

“However, competent authorities should also have the possibility to use alternative methods, as there is no reason to limit the use of appropriately validated alternative methods to food business operators only,” according to the draft regulation.

CEN/ISO standards are reference methods for testing requirements. EN ISO 16140-2 was revised and published in 2016 and CEN/ISO standard EN ISO 6579-1 was adopted for the detection of Salmonella. The 16140 standard covers microbiology of the food chain.

A reference to ISO 16140-6 was deleted from the draft as the standard is still under development and not yet published. The ISO 16140-3 method verification is expected to be published sometime next year.

The draft regulation outlines that alternative methods validated against the reference methods are to be considered equivalent.

Salmonellosis is caused by the bacteria Salmonella. It is usually characterized by acute onset of fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and sometimes vomiting. Onset of disease symptoms occurs six to 72 hours (usually 12-36 hours) after ingestion of Salmonella and illness lasts two to seven days, according to the World Health Organization.

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