Of more than 2500 identified Salmonella serotypes, only a small proportion are common in poultry flocks. However, there is an epidemiologically important connection between poultry products and human infections because many of the serotypes that are most prevalent in humans (such as Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Enteritidis) are similarly common in poultry. The scope of food safety efforts for poultry products has been broadened in recent years to include more attention to animal production (or preharvest) issues. The goal of preharvest poultry food safety is to minimize opportunities for the introduction, persistence, and transmission of flock infections with Salmonella and other human pathogens. This objective can be pursued either by general strategies directed against all Salmonella serotypes (and in some instances against other pathogenic microorganisms as well) or by more specific strategies that are designed to act with precision against particular Salmonella serotypes with distinctive public health or economic significance. Risk assessment studies have recommended intervention at multiple steps in the farm-to-table continuum as the most productive overall approach. A comprehensive quality assurance strategy, encompassing both broadly based risk-reduction practices and targeted testing to detect pathogens of concern, has been associated with a lower incidence of Salmonella Enteritidis infections in both egg-laying flocks and humans in a number of countries. Although the emphasis in these types of programs is primarily on risk reduction, testing provides essential verification of the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of risk-reduction practices (and identifies flocks infected with uniquely problematic serotypes). Vaccination can enhance the short-term responsiveness of control programs to address problems involving specific serotypes of elevated significance.
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Vol. 51 • No. 4