IMPORTANT: If you reside in a country where health product communications are restricted to health care professionals, and you are NOT a health care professional, please contact your veterinarian instead of reading the following information.
Solutions for Food Safety*
Across the entire food industry, food-borne pathogens are a top concern. Outbreaks of food-related illness can become a public health crisis, resulting in product recalls and loss of consumer confidence that have a tremendous impact on producers’ profitability and long-term reputation. Within the poultry industry, Salmonella is the biggest threat, as certain strains are the leading cause of food-borne illness in people, primarily from contaminated eggs and (to a lesser degree) poultry meat. Other bacteria like Campylobacter also pose a threat to the safety and quality of poultry products.
Poultry producers are under pressure to respond to consumer demands for safer, high-quality food. At the same time, consumers and regulators alike are concerned about the wider impact of traditional treatment protocols for these pathogens, and are pushing for solutions that are more attuned to public health, environmental, and animal welfare issues.
Disease Management Approaches
In response to both consumer concerns and changing policies, today’s poultry producers need tools and strategies to help them effectively and responsibly safeguard the integrity of their final products. More and more, this is being achieved with a shift from reactive treatment to proactive prevention of infection in commercial flocks. Vaccination is an important component of such an approach.
In Salmonella control, vaccines—both live and inactivated—are becoming more widely available and used in many regions, especially in the egg industry. Vaccines help protect birds from infection and reduce spread of strains within the environment. Inoculating breeder birds is another useful strategy, as inherited maternal antibodies protect new chicks. In most countries, national control programs that institute vaccination (among other measures) contribute to significantly reduced incidence of salmonellosis in the consumer population.
Control of food-borne pathogens is a complex challenge that affects every step of the production process, and vaccination is only one part of the solution. For most of these pathogens, including Salmonella, transmission within flocks is primarily through contact with feces in the environment; newborn chicks can be infected by fecal-contaminated eggshells. Strict biosecurity and hygiene in both the hatchery and farm are an important complement to vaccination protocols.
Vaccination success relies on proper administration and compliance, but it still cannot provide total eradication of food-borne pathogens, so sanitation measures all the way through to the processing plant are critical. Consumer education about proper food handling and cooking will always remain important, but poultry producers need to be able to reassure consumers that the industry is implementing all possible measures.
Merial’s avian business has one primary mission: helping poultry producers feed the world with meat and eggs that are not only abundant and cost-effective, but also of the best possible quality. With the shift toward preventive approaches, our legacy in biologics guides our development of vaccines to help safeguard the integrity of our customers’ products. Currently our food-safety solutions focus on Salmonella control,* and include:
- GALLIVAC SE, a live vaccine (available in certain markets**) to help control Salmonella
- GALLIMUNE SE and GALLIMUNE SE + ST, our inactivated vaccines (available in certain markets**) against Salmonella
- Autogenous vaccines produced upon request for individual poultry producers in the U.S.** from specific Salmonella strains isolated at their sites
Brand and product availability vary across markets, but we are always evolving our offerings to address improved vaccine delivery modes, other pathogen challenges, and changing regulations.
Our customer solutions also include the expertise of our Veterinary Services teams, who bring deep knowledge of the impact of food-borne pathogens. We develop customized vaccination programs to help optimize food safety within the bigger-picture of overall flock health—because healthier birds yield higher-quality meat and eggs. And Merial's Vaccination Technologies & Services (VTS) group provides not only the equipment and training for successful vaccination, but also on-site audits and consulting on biosecurity and hygiene along the entire poultry value chain.
More about Food-Borne Pathogens*
There are more than 2,500 serotypes of the Salmonella family of bacteria, which live in the intestinal tracts of many different animals; some cause disease while others are non-pathogenic. Several strains are found in commercial poultry, with Salmonella enterica serovars enteriditis and typhimurium as the two most implicated in food-borne illness in humans. Occasionally they cause clinical signs in younger birds, but typically these infections are asymptomatic in poultry.
These Salmonella strains can infect people through meat or eggs from infected birds that is improperly handled when raw or insufficiently cooked before consumption. Salmonellosis, the resulting infection, is characterized in humans by acute onset of gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, sometimes accompanied by fever. Most patients recover, but illness can be severe and dangerous in children, the elderly, and immuno-suppressed individuals.
While Salmonella is by far the most prevalent food-borne pathogen affecting the poultry industry, some others remain a concern as well, such as Campylobacter jejuni. This bacterium lives in the GI tract of various birds, including commercial poultry, and is generally non-pathogenic to them but can cause severe intestinal illness in humans if they consume contaminated and undercooked poultry meat.
*Merial produces and markets vaccines against Salmonella and is investigating other avian diseases that affect food safety. However, be aware that NOT all aspects of the diseases mentioned on this page are addressed by a vaccine. Always consult the product label for exact vaccine indications.
**Many of Merial’s avian vaccines are only marketed and available in certain countries, sometimes under different trade names. Speak to your Merial representative or contact us to find out what’s available in your region.
Scientific Literature & Other Materials
Want to dig deeper? Browse published research on a range of poultry diseases and products, plus our equipment brochures, website articles, and more.
Product background info, vaccination equipment demos, and customer testimonials—explore all these and others from our video collection.