DEFRA seeks views on new turkey salmonella rules

DEFRA is seeking views on how to implement new EU salmonella monitoring rules in the UK next year, including how it can support producers to comply with them.

The chicken breeding and laying sectors have already seen the introduction of a mandatory testing regime as required under the EU Zoonoses Directive, while this year it is the turn of the broiler sector.

Under the proposals, the scheme will apply to all turkey breeding flocks with more than 250 birds, all fattening flocks with more than 500 birds and all hatcheries with a capacity for more than 1000 eggs.

Flocks testing positive for S enteritidis or typhimurium will face specific control measures, including cleaning and disinfection procedures plus testing of all sheds on the turkey unit to ensure that infection does not spread to subsequent flocks.

The overall target for the sector is to have a maximum percentage of turkey flocks remaining positive for S enteritidis and typhimurium serotypes to 1% or less by 31 December 2012. But, as DEFRA pointed out, the good news is that a nationwide survey of commercial turkey flocks carried out in 2006/2007 showed that UK producers were already meeting the EU target.

Therefore, DEFRA is concentrating on how to implement it. Options include continuing current sampling and testing arrangements, having the scheme under the direct control of government or to share responsibility with the industry. Another option is for turkey companies to establish their own company control programme.

DEFRA is also interested in views on how government can support industry to comply with the rules and charging for the collection of samples.

The deadline for comments is 23 September.