The poultry industry is one of the most XXIV. The international trade of poultry meat: legislation and requirements for Salmonella.

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1 The international trade of poultry meat: legislation and requirements for Salmonella 1 - DVM, Ph.D., Professor of Poultry Health, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Av. Bento Gonçalves, 9090 Porto Alegre - RS - CEP: BRAZIL 2 - DVM, Ph.D., Professor of Poultry Health, University of Passo Fundo (UPF) 3 - DVM, M.Sc., Professor of Poultry Health (National University of Colombia); Ph.D. student, (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UFRGS). 4 - DVM, M.Sc., Ph.D. student (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UFRGS). 5 - DVM, Ph.D., Professor of Poultry Health, Tuiuty-Paraná University (UTP) Introduction The poultry industry is one of the most important sectors of the Brazilian agribusiness. In addition of being extremely important for economy due to the billions of dollars generated by exports, the poultry industry has a very relevant social role as it employs thousands of people all over the country. Global exports of chicken meat increased 11.4% in 2007, with 7.2 million metric tons (MT). Brazil had a 45% share in this international market, maintaining its positions as the greatest world exporter of chicken meat. During the period of 1984 to 2007, chicken meat per capita consumption in Brazil increased from 7 kg to 38.2 kg. In addition to this significant growth of the domestic market, the expansion of production has led Brazil to increase its share in the foreign market. Chicken meat exports started in 1975, with about 3,500 MT, reached in 2007 the impressive volume of 3.2 million MT, representing an increase of more than 91,000% and revenues of almost USD 5 billion. Despite the increasing share in the international market, the supply of chicken meat to the domestic market is still plenty (ABEF - Associação Brasileira dos Exportadores de Frango, 2007). According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), global production of chicken meat increased 6.2% in 2007, from 64 to 68 million MT. Brazilian production in 2007 was 10.2 million MT, maintaining the country in the position of third largest world producer, following the USA and China, which produced 16.2 and 11.5 million MT, respectively. ABEF reported that the exports of chicken meat cuts summed up 1.8 million MT with revenues of USD 2.7 billion in The main Brazilian chicken cuts markets are Asia (particularly Japan and Hong Kong) and the European Union (mainly the Netherlands and Germany). The exports of whole chickens amounted to 1.1 million MT, with revenues of USD 1.4 billion, and are mostly directed to the Middle East (mainly to Saudi Arabia, Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Kuwait) as well as to Venezuela, Russia and Angola. Between January and October of 2008, Brazilian chicken exports reached 3.1 million MT, representing a 17% increase compared with the same period in 2007 (during those 10 months of 2008, revenues totaled USD 6 billion or a 54% increase compared with 2007) (ABEF, 2008). In order to process most of its poultry production, Brazil currently has 184 processing plants with federal inspection services. As mentioned above, it must be highlighted the poultry production chain has acquired increasing social and economic importance in Brazil. Taking the specific case of broiler production in the state of Rio Grande do Sul (RS), in 2004 the number of contracted farmers was 10,500 with more than 13,000 broiler houses distributed in 134 counties. Broilers are produced mainly in small farms and are an excellent alternative for production diversification (ASGAV, 2005a,b). In Brazil, UBA data (2007) indicate a number of 4 million Jobs linked to poultry production, with obvious social 1

2 consequences. Because poultry production adopts associativist or contract systems, it allows farmers to retain their properties as it makes small farms economically feasible by providing working capital and technology and by ensuring the sales of their flocks. In the state of Rio Grande do Sul, there are about 40,000 families mostly small-farm owners directly linked to broiler and egg production, which generate 45,000 direct and 800,000 indirect job posts. Poultry production also contributes to improve soil physical and chemical qualities, as a considerable volume of organic fertilizer is added to crops in small farms, increasing the production of crops. In addition, cooperatives and poultry companies provide the farmers with cutting-edge genetic, nutrition and health technologies. Another important aspect is that poultry production supplies an affordable food source for low-income populations. When considering the current global scenario, together with the remarkable progress in technology, there is a growing public concern with food quality and safety. This concern is evident not only in the so-called developed countries, but also those still developing as a result both of the improvement of the social and economic conditions of their populations and of the expansion of the access to information (CAC, 2001). For decades, food microbiological safety was exclusively based on complying with pre-established microbiological standards and criteria. This required food safety surveillance agencies and food companies to conduct microbiological analyses to determine the compliance with those criteria and standards, and therefore, if products were safe for human consumption. However, it was soon perceived that those analyses were limited as tools Risk Risk analysis Risk management to ensure food safety, particularly when there are low contamination levels. For instance, when there is one contaminated unit in a batch of 200 food products (0.5%), even if 100 units are analyzed, the probability of mistakenly approve the batch is 61% (ICMSF, 2002). In addition to sampling method and size, there are other issues involved, such as method of analysis, microbiological limits of each pathogen, and microbial ecology in the product. Microbiological standards and criteria can be applied to finished products, but make little or no contribution to solve contamination issues in the processing line (Reij and Schothorst, 2000). The international trade of food is growing, bringing economic and social benefits. Also feedings habits have changed in many countries during the last two decades, inspiring the development of new food production, preparation, and distribution techniques (CAC, 2001). This has required a proactive attitude from food producers, using other tools to ensure food safety. One of these tools is the HACCP system (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) applied to food processing lines. However, its efficacy requires the previous implementation of good hygiene practices (Whiting and Buchanan, 1997). The main focus of the HACCP system is to identify and control process steps that influence the production of safe food. This system has proven to be very effective for the control of physical, chemical, and biological hazards in foods. However, one of its main disadvantages is that it is difficult to compare different HACCP plans as it is not possible to assess if they provide the same level of protection to the final consumer (ICMSF, 1998; ICMSF, 2002). The existence of these limitations, together with the need of properly estimating potential food safety impacts on public health as well as the economic costs associated to foodborne diseases, resulted in the development of this new safety management tool called Risk Analysis (Whiting and Buchanan, 1997). The concept of microbiological risk analysis has been increasingly accepted for the management of microbiological hazards in food. A risk analysis is a structured and systematic process that integrates information from several sources on the origin and destruction of pathogens along the production chain and that determines the magnitude of public health risks (Lammerding, 2006). 2 Risk communication Figure 1 - Risk analysis structure (CAC, 1999). According to the internationally accepted concept, the Risk Analysis process consists of three components: Risk Assessment, Risk Management, and Risk Communication (CAC, 1999; ICMSF, 2002; Schlundt, 2002), as shown in Figure 1.

3 There are interactions among the elements of Risk Analysis (Figure 2). In this structure, the individual 4. Risk responsible for risk characterization management (risk manager) determines which hazard is 3. Exposure under consideration (Figure 2, item 1), whereas the person responsible for Risk Analysis (risk assessor) provides Risk information on the behavior and other important characteristics of the selected hazard (Figure 2, item 2). The risk assessor then determined the level of hazard exposure using both product analysis and the complete description of the path followed by the raw material from transport, processing, and storage up to consumption (Figure 2, item 3). Therefore, the different hazard levels can be estimated under several situations and/or circumstances, as well as the probability of public exposure. Finally, the risk assessor combines the hazard exposure data with information on the doseresponse ratio and severity of the effects to provide a final risk estimate (Figure 2, item 4). Based on this estimate, the task of the risk manager is to evaluate the risk considering not only its scientific characteristics, but also its social, ethic and economic consequences to decide which actions are needed to be implemented (Figure 2, items 6 and 7). The estimated risk, therefore, must be clearly presented; for instance, the risk of an immunocompromised individual to become severely ill due to listeriosis acquired by the consumption of 100g of vacuumpacked salami is lower than 1 in one million. Moreover, the entire system must be constantly monitored and regularly reviewed (Figure 2, item 8) (Reij and Schothorst, 2000). Figure 2 - Structure of Risk Assessment as defined by the Codex Alimentarius (FAO/ WHO, 1997). This model is also very useful for pathogen reduction programs and implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), because the primary objective of a Risk Analysis of foodborne pathogens with no or few epidemiological data should not be to predict the risk; rather, to be 2. Hazart characterization Risk analysis 1. Hazard 3. Exposure Options Hazart characterization implementation identification 8. Monitoring Risk and review Risk communication 5. Risk 6. Options 4. Risk characterization used as a tool to analyze which are the best way(s) to reduce this risk (Hope et al., 2002). Salmonella in poultry and its importance in food processing and public health Avian salmonellosis is a term that designates a group of acute or chronic diseases caused by one or more species of the genus Salmonella, which belongs to the family Enterobacteriaceae. More than 2,500 serovars belong to that genus and are differentiated based on chemical and serological reactions (Popoff and Le Minor, 1997). Several species can be isolated from poultry, which are the largest individual reservoir of Salmonella in nature (Snoeyenbos and Williams, 1991) and are important vectors of foodborne Salmonella infections in humans. According to Todd (1989), economic losses due to food poisoning in the USA and Canada amount to USD 8.4 billion and approximately 50% of this cost is due to diseases caused by Salmonella. Pivinick (1978) showed that the incidence of Salmonella in poultry carcasses in Canada increased from 15% to 39% during the period of 1970 to

4 4 According to WHO, the genus Salmonella is the most frequent microorganism implicated in foodborne diseases of bacterial origin around the world. That agent is typically transmitted to humans by the consumption of animal food products, such as meat, eggs, and milk. There are several studies on the incidence of Salmonella in the meat of poultry collect in retail stores. Straver et al. (2007) quantified Salmonella in 220 chicken breast fillet samples collected in retail stores and determined that 19 samples (8.6%) had Salmonella counts higher than 10 MPN (most probable number) and only 0.8% samples presented counts higher than 3 log 10. Trajkovic et al. (2007), analyzing 90 fresh meat samples from retail stores in Serbia, determined that 3.3% of the poultry samples were contaminated with Salmonella. According to Varnam and Evans (1991), the infecting dose for healthy persons is colony-forming units (CFU). Nascimento and Silva (1994) observed that literature indicates that a small number of Salmonella microorganisms is sufficient to infect humans and a single microorganism can trigger food poisoning. Salmonella infection in humans is influenced by serovar, strain, infecting dose, nature of the contaminated food, and host s health status. Children, immunocompromised patients and those infected with blood diseases are more susceptible to Salmonella infection than adult humans. Some serovars are highly pathogenic for humans, but the virulence of some rare serovars is still unknown. Also, strains belonging to the same serovar may present different pathogenicity. In a study on the incidence of Salmonella in five different fresh meat products sold at retail in New Zealand, Wong et al. (2007) found 3% prevalence in poultry meat and one of serotypes isolated, Salmonella typhimurium PT1, was phenotypically and serologically similar to the attenuated serotype used in the poultry vaccine MeganVac1. As to the influence of environmental factors on carcass contamination, the study of Arsenault et al. (2007) should be mentioned. Those authors analyzed the prevalence and risk factors of broiler carcasses contamination with Salmonella. A prevalence of 21.2% was determined, and the following risk factors were identified: birds with cecal culture positive for Salmonella, low rainfall during transport to the processing plant, temperatures higher or equal to 0 C during transport to the processing plant and lairage times longer than 4 hours. In the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, Nascimento et al. (2003) described the prevalence of Salmonella in broiler carcasses and cuts and the main serovars isolated. Out of the sampled carcasses, 15.1% whole carcasses and 26.1% cuts (drumette: 25.6%, breast meat: 25.6%, leg: 30.3% and back: 31.0%) were positive. The main serovars identified were S. Enteritidis (51%), S. Hadar (26%) and S. Heidelberg (11%). International food trade As mentioned above, during the last few years Brazil has consolidated its position at the world largest food exporter, including animal proteins. Simultaneously, new restrictions emerge in the international food trade. According to Milner (1997), the increase in the volume of manufactured products submitted to non-tariff controls from less than 1% in 1974 to about de 20% in 1985 significantly enhanced the importance of healthregulating agencies. That author showed that as tariff restrictions were reduced in international trade, there was a significant increase in application of non-tariff restrictions, particularly those related to health issues. In an attempt to change this scenario, the World Trade Organization (WTO) organized a negotiation round among the member countries to regulate the main aspects of international trade. The principle of equivalence was then adopted by the WTO to facilitate trade while protecting consumers health (Codex Alimentarius, 2007b). During these meetings, known as the Uruguay Round, norms for the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures by the involved countries. Those measures determined that, although the nations have the right to adopt measures to protect the health of their populations, these measures should mainly: a. be applied only to the extent necessary to protect human health; b. be based on scientific principles; c. not be maintained without sufficient scientific evidence; d. be based on internationally agreed recommendations. In addition, the agreement recommends that a country should consider measures taken by another

5 country as equivalent, provided they ensure the same safety level to the final product (CAC, 2007b). Therefore, since the agreement became effective in 1995, the importance of Risk Analysis has significantly increased (FAO, 2002) because it allows comparing two different systems to determine if they provide the same protection level to the final consumer (ICMSF, 2002). In a document published in 1997, FAO/WHO recommends that countries use the approach of Risk Analysis to ensure the perfect allocation of resources to programs controlling foods and foodborne diseases. Moreover, Risk Analysis can be used as a major determining factor in the development of any scientifically based system for the control and prevention of microbiological hazards (Hope et al., 2002). Risk Analysis has been for more than a decade a structural model to improve food control systems aiming at producing safe food, reducing the number of foodborne diseases, and facilitating domestic and international food trade. In addition, this system provides a more comprehensive food safety approach, as the entire chain needs to be considered for the production of safe foods (FAO, 2002). In terms of health, microbiological hazards need to be effectively controlled in order to prevent risks to consumers health and to allow food trade among countries. In this sense, it should be mentioned that foodborne disease outbreaks may cause severe social and economic damage, with losses in terms of trade and tourism, unemployment and increased health care costs (CAC, 2001). Some countries and international agencies, aiming at minimizing those losses, developed some microbiological risk analysis studies on some foodpathogen combinations (USDA, 1998; FAO/WHO, 2002; FSANZ, 2005). However, the management of microbiological hazard risk control is technically very complex. The food industry has had the responsibility of providing food safety by operating a set of control measures related to food hygiene according to official regulations. Risk Analysis and its components (risk, management, and communication) has been recently introduced as a new tool for the and control of microbiological hazards, aiming at helping to protect consumers health and to ensure fair international trade practices. It may also aid the judgment of equivalence of food safety control systems (FAO/WHO, 1997). According to the general aspects determined by the Codex Alimentarius, the main objective of risk analysis applied to food safety is to ensure human health protection (CAC, 2007a). Therefore, the application of Risk Analysis will support the presence of the Brazilian government in international negotiation rounds and reinforce the credibility and acceptance of its management system of food safety control, aiming at maintaining the position of Brazil in the chicken meat international trade. In the scenario of products analyzed for Salmonella spp by third countries, the recommendation of the WTO for fresh chicken products (whole carcasses and parts) is that these products should not be tested at the border as a health barrier against the entrance of fresh products, because the presence of Salmonella is allowed in fresh meat products. However, some countries require a certificate of the absence of Salmonella spp or of some Salmonella species in these products, such as the case of the largest poultry meat importer, Russia, as well as Singapore and some European Union (EU) countries, including Sweden, Finland and Denmark. Processed products not submitted to heat treatment (salted and seasoned chicken products) also have specific sanitary certification requirements by some EU countries. These products account for a significant number of rapid alerts received by Brazil due to sampling made at reception in third countries. Cooked products, because they are submitted to heat treatment, have low detection risk, and there has been no record of Salmonella in these exported products. Processed chicken products had a participation in the portfolio of exports of 155,000 MT in 2007, with revenues of USD 402 million, whereas salted meats accounted for 124,000 MT and USD 356 million in revenues during the same period. The EU was the main customer of both segments. In Brazil, a recent study carried out by the National Agency of Health Surveillance (Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária ANVISA) showed the presence of Salmonella spp. in 3.03% of frozen poultry carcasses collected in retail stores of 13 states and Federal District between 2004 and 2006 (Brasil, 2008). Aiming at determining the prevalence and monitoring the incidence of Salmonella spp. to enhance the efficiency of the control measures in order to ensure adequate consumers protection, the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture (MAPA) established in 2003 the Program for Pathogen Reduction and Microbiological Monitoring and Control of Salmonella spp. in Chicken and Turkey 5

6 6 Carcasses, applied to poultry and rabbit processing plants under federal inspection (Brasil, 2003). Applicability of Risk Analysis for Salmonella and other pathogens in poultry meat One of the strengths of Risk Analysis (RA) is the practical applicability of its principles, methodology, and communication of results. This applicability includes governmental agencies, processing and its entire production chain, and reaches household consumption by informing the risk to the final consumer, having immediate consequences in international trade. At government level, RA provides well-structure information, allowing the official agencies that manage risks to identify possible interventions in the production chain that improve public health controls. These official interventions include regulations, revision of the applicable legislation, development of policies emphasizing public health education, and to guide new research projects on areas considered critical. RA is extremely useful for research because it is flexible and dynamic, allowing health authorities to direct research lines to sectors that most affect public health. In summary, RA of Salmonella spp in poultry meat opens a wide field of concrete opportunities to establish public policies that directly affect food safety, and consequently, the health of the final consumer. In the poultry meat processing, which is typically done by private companies, RA also provides many practical applications for the processing line; health control along the production chain, particularly at farm level; and finished product packaging and labeling, providing clear and precise information on the risks to the final consumer. Risk analysis allows processing plants to develop more effective and efficient HACCP plans by providing them with technical and scientific foundation. Processing plants that use RA as a tool to identify risk inherent to processing can classify risks no longer in qualitative scales (high, intermediate or low), but in more accurate terms focused on the final consumer. The advantage of this change is that the risk will be defined according to the negative impacts on human health, instead of according to the possibility of carcass or finished product contamination as it is applied today. Consequently, the process risk can be measured taking into account the consumption of the product by the last link of the production chain, i.e. the final consumer, and no longer the product itself. The greatest practical beneficiary of RA is, after all, the final consumers, as they will be clearly and objectively informed of the actual possibility of a risk that is inherent to the product they are purchasing for consumption. Risk analysis allows informing the consumers that, when purchasing chicken meat and consuming a determined amount of this product, they will be exposed to a controlled risk within an acceptable safety margin. Another practical consequence of RA for Salmonella spp in poultry meat is relative to international trade. As a tool currently recommended by the CODEX Alimentarius, RA has an important role in the meat international trade because countries that use it to implement food safety governmental policies are aligned with the technical and scientific principles determined by international bodies. Moreover, the principle of equivalence determines that the health requirements used as reference in a country can be required by it when importing the same products from third countries. Therefore, by adopting the most modern and innovative food safety governmental policies, Brazil is safeguarded from possible trade and/or health barriers that may compromise its chicken meat exports. If there is no systematic risk analysis, importing countries can establish barriers not related to food safety, as previously mentioned, creating artificial limitations to international trade. Acknowledging the importance of a scientific-based perspective for fair trade, WTO recommends that every country adopts food safety measures based on Risk Analysis. The CODEX Alimentarius has already determined the principles to be followed when conducting RA, and has indicated it may be included as a standard tool for establishing food safety public policies. REFERENCE ABEF (2008) Estatísticas. Available on the internet, phpl acessed on 12/11/2008. ABU-RUWAIDA, A.S. (1994) Microbiological quality of broilers during processing in a modern commercial slaughterhouse in Kuwait. Journal of Food Protection 57: ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON THE MICROBIOLOGICAL

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