Bacterial contamination of animal feed and its relationship to human foodborne illness

Clinical Infectious Diseases : an Official Publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America
John A CrumpFrederick J Angulo

Abstract

Animal feed is at the beginning of the food safety chain in the "farm-to-fork" model. The emergence of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease has raised awareness of the importance of contaminated animal feed, but less attention has been paid to the role of bacterial contamination of animal feed in human foodborne illness. In the United States, animal feed is frequently contaminated with non-Typhi serotypes of Salmonella enterica and may lead to infection or colonization of food animals. These bacteria can contaminate animal carcasses at slaughter or cross-contaminate other food items, leading to human illness. Although tracing contamination to its ultimate source is difficult, several large outbreaks have been traced back to contaminated animal feed. Improvements in the safety of animal feed should include strengthening the surveillance of animal feed for bacterial contamination and integration of such surveillance with human foodborne disease surveillance systems. A Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point program should be instituted for the animal feed industry, and a Salmonella-negative policy for feed should be enforced.

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