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EU rates Danish chicken with a special status

The EU concludes that Danish broilers have shown the way in combating salmonella. Therefore, Danish poultry is awarded with a special status. This means that all imported poultry in the future must be tested free of salmonella.

For years Danish chickens has been free from salmonella thanks to annual control of salmonella in Danish broiler chickens. Today that has been recognized by the EU, who has awarded Denmark with a special status for poultry meat. As a result, the Danish authorities can now demand that all imported poultry has to be salmonella free.

“The poultry industry has worked systematically and targeted to combat salmonella, and it is now bearing fruit. It is thanks to a good and sustained effort from especially the current Minister for Environment and Food, Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, the Ministry of Environment and Food and the Danish Food Agency, that Denmark is now gaining special status and it is a big win for Danish consumers”, says Martin Hjort Jensen, chairman for the Business poultry section in Danish Agriculture & Food Council.

In 1992, salmonella bacteria were found in 14% of all samples taken from Danish broiler chickens, but in 2017 this figure has changed drastically and is only 0.3%. Similarly, the number of human incidents has fallen from 1,581 in 1988 to just nine cases in 2016. “It has been more than ten years since the application to the EU was sent. It has been a very long process that has cost a lot of money for producers as well as the slaughterhouses”, says Martin Hjort Jensen.

In 1992, salmonella bacteria were found in 14% of all samples taken from Danish broiler chickens, but in 2017 this figure has changed drastically and is now on only 0.3%

Throughout the years, Danish broiler chicken producers have complied with the rules to gain special status, which among other things means, that in Denmark – as one of a few countries worldwide – we destroy and kill flocks with all kinds of salmonella. In other countries, it is only with a few selected types of salmonella that this is consequence.

A collaborative culture to give better products

Martin Hjort Jensen points out that the work has only been possible through close cooperation between producers, changing food ministers and the food authorities in Denmark and the EU. “I am proud of the Danish broilers’ production,” says Martin Hjort Jensen, and continues: “A huge effort has been made in the production halls to fight and reduce the occurrence of salmonella, thus securing a high level of food security for the consumers.”

By saying yes to the Danish application for poultry meat, the EU has shown its willingness to reward member countries doing a special job in relation to food safety. It is a huge win for both food safety in general and the consumers. “Consumers will only get the full bonus of the effort when the authorities can make the same requirements for the imported poultry meat that the Danish must live up to,” says Martin Hjort Jensen.

Facts about combating salmonella
  • The Salmonella Action Plan, which is the world’s toughest, consists of continuous monitoring (testing) of all poultry flocks, heat treatment of all poultry feed, enhanced self-control programs focusing on high biosecurity and rules for which animal material may be used for Danish broiler production.
  • Salmonella prevalence in Danish broiler chickens has come so far that Denmark in 2007 applied to the EU Commission for special status for salmonella in poultry meat. It is the special status that Denmark has now received, which means that Denmark in the future can demand that imported poultry has to have the same low amounts of salmonella as the Danish poultry.
  • The Danish poultry industry began monitoring the salmonella in broilers back in the 1990s. In 1996 the first public salmonella action plan for poultry came out, which has since been expanded several times.
  • The Salmonella Action Plan for broilers includes all stages of the production.
  • Denmark joins Sweden and Finland, which are the only other EU countries with special status for salmonella. The two countries retained their status as free from salmonella when they were admitted into the EU.

Source: Danish Agriculture & Food Council

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