ATLANTA – During a Jan. 26 presentation focused on pre-harvest Salmonella-control efforts, the chief veterinarian with Perdue Farms said that while the company utilizes best management practices before birds arrive at its processing facilities, pathogen control in poultry is most effectively implemented at the plant level.

In his presentation, “Industry Best Management Practices for the Pre-Harvest Control of Salmonella,” Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown, outlined Perdue’s five BMP programs it uses prior to harvest, which address: biosecurity, animal welfare, operational and environmental issues on the live side of the business. However, he pointed out during his portion of last week’s International Poultry Expo Pre-Harvest Food Safety Conference that because of the variability of the production side of the industry, “if the live side didn’t bring bacteria to the plant, there would be very little.” He pointed out that plants can effectively reduce unsafe pathogen loads on more than 90 percent of the birds presented for processing, but that not knowing when the other 10 percent will arrive is an issue.

Stewart-Brown said he realizes the importance of pre-harvest practices, but said in terms of dedicating financial resources, it is poor use of money to invest in food safety on the live side of poultry operations. That money is better spent on food safety interventions at the plant level, he said.

“Very few things on the live side get you 1-2 log reductions,” he said, but achieving such reductions in the plant is much more feasible and represents a more efficient use of resources.

Perdue’s live side practices include a “keep-out” approach when it comes to biosecurity, ensuring water is clean and controlling pests. “Keep-low” efforts include vaccination programs and a wide range of breeder best practices, including: pre-placement chicken-house preparation, chemical control management, nest box management and water quality programs.