Salmonella prevalence and characterization in a free-range pig processing plant: tracking in trucks, lairage, slaughter line and quartering

Int J Food Microbiol. 2013 Mar 1;162(1):48-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2012.12.026. Epub 2013 Jan 8.


New consumer tendencies are focused on products derived from systems which allow both a high animal welfare condition and a high food safety level. However, sometimes animal welfare regulations make the adoption of adequate bio-security measures difficult, representing a barrier for animal health and food safety. Thus the aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of Salmonella at different points of the pig slaughtering process (Trucks, Lairage, Slaughter line and Quartering, TLSQ) from pigs reared in free-range systems. From eight samplings a total of 126 Salmonella isolates out of 1160 different samples were recovered (10.86%). The highest percentage of isolates was detected at the points of pre-scalding (29/80, 36.25%), trucks (13/56, 23.21%), cecal contents (17/80, 21.25%), tonsils (14/80, 17.50%), ileocecal lymph nodes (13/80, 16.25%) and lairage (9/64, 14.06%). Furthermore, eighteen isolates were obtained from different environmental samples from slaughter line and quartering plant (knives and surface of tables) (5.63%) and three isolates at the quartering plant samples (ham, shoulder and loin) (3.75%). Fourteen different serotypes were isolated: Bredeney, Rissen, Derby, Typhimurium, Montevideo, Israel, Anatum, Emek, Monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium (mST), Choleraesuis, Durban, Kentucky, London and Sandiego. S. Typhimurium phage types U311, 193, 104b and UT were identified. Moreover, mST strain was phage typed as U311. From TLSQ1, TLSQ2 and TLSQ4, different strains of S. Derby, S. Rissen and S. Bredeney serotypes were isolated from pig and environmental samples, pointing to a potential cross contamination. Molecular typing (Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis, PFGE) of these strains confirmed the cross contamination. In the remaining samplings, different serotypes were obtained in each sampled point of the chain, assuming that the isolated serotypes belonged to different epidemiological origins. Our results show the isolation of different serotypes of Salmonella spp. from both pigs and environmental samples, which constitutes a great risk for the contamination of pork from free-range pigs both prior and post slaughter. These data support the intensification of the cleaning and disinfection in the pre-slaughter environment (i.e. trucks, lairage), especially when a higher workload is present, as well as the inclusion of new strategies to decrease or eliminate the risk of Salmonella spp. infection or recontamination from the environment in pork from organic or eco-friendly systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abattoirs* / standards
  • Animals
  • Bacteriophage Typing
  • Cecum / microbiology
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Meat / microbiology*
  • Motor Vehicles / standards
  • Phylogeny
  • Prevalence
  • Salmonella / classification
  • Salmonella / genetics
  • Salmonella / isolation & purification
  • Salmonella / physiology*
  • Salmonella typhimurium / classification
  • Salmonella typhimurium / genetics
  • Salmonella typhimurium / isolation & purification
  • Serotyping
  • Swine