Thursday, December 20, 2012

Salmonella’s in livestock, poultry feed

About 13 per cent of the livestock and poultry feed checked by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is contaminated with Salmonella bacteria, even though the CFIA has a standard of zero tolerance.

The CBC in Manitoba is reporting on the situation, citing Prof. Rick Holley of the University of Manitoba who tested 12 samples the CBC picked up and found Salmonella in two, a rate of 17 per cent.

Holley said this is a high risk for food poisoning of people, including from fruit, vegetables and nuts grown on fields where manure has been spread.

The CBC notes that the Public Health Agency of Canada reports that an average of about 6,700 cases of Salmonella food poisoning show up every year.

Paul Mayers, the CFIA’s vice-president of policy and programs, said the agency takes a risk-based approach.

"If you have the situation where you have [an animal] that's not susceptible to salmonella infection, and you have a very low-risk feed, then the corrective action that's employed may be different than in a [high-risk] situation," he told the CBC.

Mayers said among the most severe corrective actions include product destruction and mandatory CFIA-issued recalls.

He would not indicate what the least severe responses would be, but he said a "corrective action is always required."

Mayers also declined to give examples of when the CFIA has issued mandatory recalls for salmonella in animal feed.

But one Manitoba feed producer told the CBC the CFIA is only concerned with six of the more than 2,500 strains of salmonella, and it lets the feed enter the market normally if it doesn't detect one of those six strains.

Melissa Dumont, director of technical services for the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada, said she’s not convinced there is the link that Prof. Holley raised and said Salmonella is “everywhere in the environment” and therefore not surprising some shows up in animal feeds.

“I can only speak of the science that I've seen, and right now the link (to human illnesses) is not evident, if there at all, at this point in time," she said.