A recent study published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) sought to determine the prevalence of Salmonella spp. in swine carcasses, as well as to evaluate different factors that may influence Salmonella levels. According to EFSA, salmonellosis is the second most frequent foodborne illness in the EU, while pork is one of the four most commonly reported foods in cases of salmonellosis. 

A total of 757 samples were collected from pig carcasses, using a non-destructive technique, post-dressing and prior to chilling. Of the samples tested, 19 were found to be positive for Salmonella. The most prevalent strain was Salmonella Derby. The overall prevalence of Salmonella was estimated to be 2.6 percent.

The average weight of the carcasses was 127.97 kilograms (kg), and the average distance that the carcasses were taken from farm to slaughterhouse was 200.92 kilometers (km). The prevalence of Salmonella in carcasses that were taken a further-than-average distance was higher by 1.7 units. The prevalence of Salmonella in carcasses that were heavier-than-average was higher by 0.2 units. 

The study found that the prevalence of Salmonella in carcasses is higher when they travel greater distances from the farm to the slaughterhouse. There is an 8.1 percent probability that the prevalence of Salmonella in swine carcasses will exceed the EU’s hygiene criteria when carcasses travel further-than-average distances. The prevalence of Salmonella was also shown to increase in weightier animals, but to a lesser extent. 

The study’s findings will help clarify the influence of slaughterhouse processes and procedures as a source of microbiological contamination of meat. The study’s risk assessment model can also be used to reassess existing priorities in inspections, as well as more efficiently plan control points throughout the production chain.