The trend of finding Salmonella infantis in poultry products is increasing, according to researchers.

European regulation on fresh poultry specifically mentions only Salmonella enteritidis or Salmonella typhimurium as a food safety criterion so considers chicken meat contaminated with other Salmonella species as compliant.

Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 on microbiological criteria for foodstuffs sets Salmonella food safety criteria for some foods of animal origin. That for fresh poultry  is limited to enteritidis and typhimurium as they represent the main risk for public health. Whether food containing Salmonella infantis is considered unsafe and not placed on the market should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, according to the European Commission.

The Italian National Salmonellosis Control Plan for Poultry 2019 to 2021 establishes the abatement conditions for poultry farms in case of positive isolation of Salmonella enteritidis, Salmonella typhimurium and Salmonella infantis.

Chicken meat and Salmonella infantis
The study was published in the European Journal of Public Health and presented at the European Public Health conference this past November in Marseille.

Several outbreaks of food poisoning caused by fresh chicken meat contaminated with Salmonella infantis have been reported recently.

One in the United States infected 129 people from 32 states. Illness dates went from Jan. 8, 2018, to Jan. 27, 2019. Ill people ranged in age from less than one year to 105, with a median of 42. Of 85 people with information available, 25 were hospitalized and one death was reported from New York.

The outbreak strain was identified in raw chicken products from 76 slaughter and/or processing establishments, from raw chicken pet food, and live chickens. A single, common supplier of raw chicken products or live chickens was not identified. Ill people had eaten different types and brands of chicken products purchased from different locations.

In October this year a symposium was held on Salmonella infantis infections in poultry by the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. It featured reports on the epidemiological situation of Salmonella infantis in Hungary, Italy and Austria.

Positive Salmonella findings
For the Italian study, in 2018, the national health system had batches of fresh chicken meat from Poland, sampled in a cold storage facility in Northern Italy.

The food control department of the Istituto Zooprofilattico sperimentale della Lombardia ed Emilia Romagna (IZSLER) in Brescia analyzed 156 samples, making 780 sampling units, for Salmonella spp

A total of 72 samples were positive, including 222 sampling units. Forty-two strains were serotyped as Salmonella enteritidis, 149 as infantis, 26 as newport, four as kentucky and one as mbandaka.

Based on EU regulation, batches positive for Salmonella enteritidis were not compliant, while those positive for other Salmonella species were considered as fine to commercialize.

In the Lombardy region, Salmonella infantis was the sixth most frequent serovar isolated in cases of human salmonellosis during 2016 to 2018.

Researchers said chicken meat should be consumed after appropriate cooking.

“However, cooking alone does not protect the consumer from the risk of cross-contamination of tools and surfaces at the household level. It is therefore fundamental the application of correct processing practices in order to prevent the spreading of Salmonella in home kitchens and limit dangerous episodes of infection.”

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