12 December 2000
‘Outdoor pigs more at risk from bugs’

By Alistair Driver

CONSUMER demands for high welfare ironically make salmonella more difficult to control in Britain than in other European countries, say pig farmers.

Producers who respond to shoppers wishes and keep pigs outdoors increase the risk of exposure to dangerous organisms, claims the National Pig Association .

It was responding to a Ministry of Agriculture survey which found salmonella in 5.3? of pig carcasses – far more than for cattle and sheep.

This also compares unfavourably with leading competitors, such as Denmark which has implemented a successful salmonella eradication programme.

The NPA said pig producers agree that the incidence must be reduced and has backed a new MAFF voluntary code of practice to guard against salmonella.

All UK pig farm assurance schemes have adopted the code.

The Food Standards Agency called for speedy action on farms to deal with salmonella and campylobacter, which also causes food poisoning in humans.

But the agency said it was equally important that consumers stored, handled and cooked meat properly.

It is working on a strategy to cut food-borne illness such as salmonella by 20% over the next five years.

The Meat and Livestock Commission said pork is rarely associated with outbreaks of food poisoning.

A 1995 Public Health Laboratory Service report showed it was associated with just one out of 52 cases, it said.