New salmonella rules threaten rare breed poultry

The new EU salmonella testing rules threaten the future of some valuable breeds, according to a Scottish hatchery owner, because if they find salmonella, your flock can be destroyed.

Last month, Animal Health officials visited the Muirfield Hatchery, home of the Black Rock breed, to carry out salmonella testing as part of the new EU rules. Peter Siddons fears that any positive salmonella result could see the 4000-strong flock slaughtered, a breed that is irreplaceable.

Black Rocks originate from the Harco/Arbor Acres breeders of America. Mr Siddons acquired the breeding stock in 1973 and has continued improving the breed by careful selection. It is a hardy breed and is on the Soil Association recommended list.

The test this time was negative, but the threat remains every three months he is to be tested because as he stresses: “salmonella is everywhere, it cannot be avoided and consequently, cannot be completely eliminated.

“In fact, MAFF back in 1988 admitted that you can’t get rid of it from farms. It is preposterous and it is now threatening not just the egg producer, but valuable breeding stock,” he said.

Mr Siddons does, however, have tight biosecurity measures, like minimising visitors, in place, as he fears other diseases such as mycoplasma gallisepticum. But with salmonalla, “you can’t take precautions against something that could come on the air.

“Salmonellas are part of life. They don’t affect people unless you eat bad food. Even then, you need a huge dose of 1m salmonellas as stated by Prof Hugh Pennington, to get food poisoning.”

He believes effort should be spent on educating the public on safe handling of food, not bullying egg producers who can do nothing about the presence of salmonellas. He believes this EU legislation [on-farm testing] should be scrapped.

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