A follow-up study on Salmonella prevalence among dairy cattle on a Swedish Island has found much lower levels.

In late 2019, the National Veterinary Institute (SVA) and Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket), did an anonymous national milk tank survey for antibodies against Salmonella.

Milk samples from all the dairy herds tested showed a generally low prevalence of Salmonella, except for Gotland and Öland. Gotland saw a change from 5.5 percent positive tank milk samples in 2013 to almost 22 percent in October 2019.

Lower levels detected
The follow-up study in these regions in the spring revealed a low prevalence in Gotland as antibodies to Salmonella were detected in only 3 percent of the dairy herds. In total, milk tank samples from 263 herds were examined — 132 on Gotland and 131 on Öland.

Possible explanations for the large variation in Gotland could be a temporary introduction of infection that has now stopped circulating or it is a type of Salmonella with greater seasonal variation than is normally seen for Salmonella Dublin.

A high proportion of positive milk samples from Öland was established before and is caused by a recognized higher occurrence of Salmonella Dublin in the region. However, the area still saw the proportion of positive tank milk samples decreasing, from 24 percent in late 2019 to 16 percent in the spring.

The work will help create the basis for an assessment of seasonal differences and to observe developments in Gotland. In Öland, it can monitor impact of ongoing efforts against Salmonella in the region, if the screening is regularly repeated in future.

The National Veterinary Institute has recommended continuing follow-up tank milk screenings at six month intervals, beginning in September or October 2020.

Official controls and wild boar meat
Meanwhile, the Swedish government has agreed to a request from the country’s food agency (Livsmedelsverket) for more time to look at food control across the country.

The assignment must be submitted no later than May 31 and a final report is due by Dec. 31, 2022.

In 2017, Livsmedelsverket was commissioned by the government to evaluate work on developing food controls and make them more equal across the country. A plan was presented to the government in April 2017 and a partial report submitted in May 2018. According to the brief, the authority was due to file the final report to the government in May 2020. To highlight the impact of efforts to improve food controls in the final report, Livsmedelsverket requested the extension.

Livsmedelsverket is also one of four authorities helping more wild boar meat reach consumers.

Under current legislation, all wild boars must go through a game management facility before the meat gets to the consumer. Only a small part, about 15 percent, of meat from wild boars shot in Sweden reaches the market.

Together with SVA, Jordbruksverket and local authorities in Kronoberg County, the agencies will prepare proposals for new legislation, develop a register for hunters who want to sell meat themselves and investigate creation of a digital system for traceability.

Livsmedelsverket will simplify the rules regarding slaughter and sales without compromising the requirements on food hygiene or safety around Trichinella.

To increase demand, there are also plans for funding investments in marketing and to disseminate information on the potential of wild boar meat to the public.

Work is expected to lead to increased production opportunities for Swedish food companies and make it easier for consumers to get wild boar meat in stores.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)