Salmonella in pet food reports continue to rise in the UK

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According to a report, the findings of Salmonella in raw meat-based pet food in the United Kingdom have increased again.

The number of positives in 2022 increased from 2021 when the highest-ever levels were seen. This poses a risk to animals who eat the food and people who handle and prepare it.

Data comes from a report on Salmonella in livestock species in England, Wales, and Scotland, pet food, and animal feed collected by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) in 2022.

In 2022, 9,225 human Salmonella cases were reported to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Public Health Wales, and Public Health Scotland. This is a 64 percent increase from 5,625 cases in 2021 and 72 percent higher than 5,362 cases in 2020. The top type was Salmonella Enteritidis, accounting for 25.7 percent of cases, followed by Salmonella Typhimurium, Infantis, Newport, and Mbandaka.

Pet food and animal feed figures

This past year, the number of Salmonella isolation reports from cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry increased by 22.9 percent compared with 2021, from 2,809 to 3,451. Compared to 2021, there was a decline in cattle and sheep, which was offset by increases in pigs, chickens, turkeys, and ducks.

Reports of Salmonella Mbandaka and Salmonella Infantis were more than double that of 2021 and Salmonella Enteritidis increased to 25 isolations from 11 in 2021. However, Salmonella Newport fell by 46.7 percent compared to 2021 and Salmonella Typhimurium levels were similar to 2021.

There were 801 isolations of Salmonella from animal feedstuffs in 2022, down from 835 the year before. They included compound feeds, feed ingredients, or products tested under Animal By-Products Regulations (ABPR). A total of 187 regulated serovars were found during 2022, which is up from 124 in 2021. These included Salmonella Infantis and Salmonella Typhimurium.

There were 406 instances of Salmonella from raw meat pet food, higher than 295 reports in 2021. Overall, 123 isolations of regulated serovars were recorded in 2022, up from 71 in 2021. The most common were Salmonella Indiana, Salmonella Infantis, Typhimurium, and Salmonella Derby.

“Contaminated raw meat pet food, which does not undergo any heat treatment to deactivate pathogens, may represent a potential source of infection to both the dogs consuming it and people who handle it, especially if insufficient hygiene measures are adopted,” said the report.

Several multi-drug resistant strains, including resistance to critically important antimicrobials, were detected in dogs, cats, and raw pet food. Findings are relevant for potential transmission to people from pets and the risk of spillover to UK livestock.

Salmonella in animals
Isolations of Salmonella from cattle in 2022 declined from 521 to 430. As in previous years, Salmonella Dublin remained the most common, with 265 isolations, followed by Salmonella Mbandaka and Salmonella Typhimurium. Reports of Salmonella from sheep fell to 94 from 144 in 2021.

The number of isolations from pigs was 214, similar to 223 in 2021. Salmonella Typhimurium and its monophasic variants were responsible for more than 70 percent of all isolations.

The report said avian influenza caused significant disruption in the poultry sector in 2022, with altered biosecurity measures needed.

Including both national control program (NCP) and non-statutory surveillance data, there were 2,404 isolations of Salmonella from chickens in 2022. This is up from 1,671 in 2021. The main types were Salmonella Montevideo and Salmonella Mbandaka. There were 23 isolations of Salmonella Enteritidis in 2022 compared with nine in 2021 and 18 of Salmonella Typhimurium compared with 15 in 2021.

The estimated prevalence of regulated serovars in all three chicken NCPs was below EU targets of 1 percent for breeders, 2 percent for layers, and 1 percent for broilers, as it was 0.26 percent for breeders, 0.27 percent for layers, and 0.03 percent for broilers.

Salmonella from chickens increased substantially between 2018 and 2020. This was primarily the result of more findings in the broiler sector and is linked to the ban on using formaldehyde-based products in animal feed production since January 2018 in the EU and UK, as well as the emergence of strains that are more persistent in farms and hatcheries, said the report.

There were 188 isolations from turkeys in 2022, up from 140 in 2021. Salmonella Anatum was the most common, followed by Salmonella Kedougou. The NCP prevalence of regulated serovars was 0.1 percent for turkey fatteners and zero for breeders. This is below the EU target of 1 percent.

There were two isolations of Salmonella from rabbits in 2022. This is the first positive finding since 2016, according to the report. There were 60 isolations from horses during 2022, up from 45 in 2021. Salmonella was also detected in ducks, pigeons, cats and reptiles.

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