Representatives from the poultry meat sector in Poland have responded to reports in the United Kingdom about the risk of Salmonella in products.

Broadcaster ITV and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism said UK food safety chiefs were considering banning some poultry products from Poland because of Salmonella.

The National Poultry Council – Chamber of Commerce and Polish Meat Association hit back at the claims, saying that Polish poultry meat “was, is and will continue to be safe.” They added national production standards result from rigorous European regulations and quality procedures implemented by companies operating in Poland.

Industry defends itself
“We would like to remind you that state institutions constantly supervise breeding and production conditions at every stage. They carry out many control procedures and ensure that products are fully safe for consumers’ health.

“The entire process is overseen by veterinarians who supervise flocks daily, as well as the Veterinary Inspection, which inspects animals and meat obtained from them. Polish producers have worked long and hard to gain their position and would never allow themselves to question the reputation of Polish poultry on global markets.”

In 2023, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said there had been 200 cases of salmonellosis in the UK caused by different strains of Salmonella Enteritidis linked to poultry meat and eggs from Poland. The agency has investigated more than 90 incidents in the past two years, with two outbreaks linked to eggs and three to poultry meat from Poland in 2023.

Emily Miles, FSA chief executive, and Christine Middlemiss, chief veterinary officer, wrote a letter to the European Commission and Polish chief veterinary officer to raise the issue in late 2023. The UK Office for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Trade Assurance is undertaking an audit of Poland in April 2024 to evaluate the controls in place.

Poland is the top producer of poultry meat in the European Union, and over half of national production is exported. In March, Jacek Czerniak, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, met with representatives from the poultry industry to discuss the challenges faced. One topic discussed was developing solutions to reduce the occurrence of Salmonella.

Not just a Polish problem
The National Poultry Council—Chamber of Commerce and Polish Meat Association said that because of the scale of the domestic industry, there are reports in the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). However, Salmonella has also been detected involving producers from countries such as Belgium, France, Hungary, Romania, the Netherlands, Lithuania, and Ukraine, meaning it is not only a problem in Poland.

There were 153 RASFF reports for Salmonella in Polish poultry products in 2023, down from 190 in 2022, when Poland recorded 6,221 Salmonella infections.

In a written question in March, Tilly Metz, from the Greens/European Free Alliance political group, raised hygiene issues in the Polish poultry sector. She asked the EU Commission about future audits to follow up on findings from 2010, 2014, and 2019 and potential action if the situation does not improve.

The National Poultry Council—Chamber of Commerce and Polish Meat Association reminded people to follow hygiene rules and properly handle raw meat. This includes appropriate heat treatment, regular washing of hands and surfaces in contact with raw meat, and correct storage of raw products.

They added producers have HACCP plans in place, and most use additional standards such as IFS (International Food Standard) or BRC (British Retail Consortium) to ensure safety.

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