Qualitative Evaluation of Causes for Routine Salmonella Monitoring False-Positive Test Results in Dutch Poultry Breeding Flocks

Microorganisms. 2021 Oct 25;9(11):2215. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9112215.


The Salmonella monitoring program, as outlined in the EU Commission regulation 200/2010, asks for repeated sampling in order to ascertain progress in achievement of the EU target. According to Article of this regulation, the competent authority may decide to do a resample and retest when it has reasons to question the results of initial testing. In the Netherlands, the competent authorities have been resampling and retesting all initial positive samplings for several years because of doubts about false positive initial test results. An analysis of population data in the period 2015-2019 indicates that 48% of initial samplings at the farm were classified as false positive after resampling and retesting by the competent authorities. A qualitative analysis, assessing factors that could be associated with the occurrence of false positives, indicates that cross-contamination during the sampling process by the poultry farmer is probably the most likely source. Cross-contamination of samples during transport from the farm to the laboratory and/or cross-contamination at the laboratory are also considered possible sources. Given the slightly non-optimal system-specificity of the Salmonella monitoring program, there is good reason to make, or consider, standard resampling and retesting of initial positive results by the competent veterinary authorities possible within the EU.

Keywords: Salmonella monitoring; false-positive; positive predicted value; poultry breeding flocks; retesting.