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The associations between animal-based welfare measures and the presence of indicators of food safety in finishing pigs

By I. Alpigiani, C. Bacci, L. J. Keeling, M. D. Salman, F. Brindani, S. Pongolini, P. L. Hitchens, S. Bonardi

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Stressful housing and management practices affect animals, potentially increasing their receptiveness to pathogens. Since some pathogens do not lead to clinical signs of sickness, subclinical pigs could enter the food-chain, contaminating carcases and offal at slaughter, representing a threat to human health. Here, we assess the feasibility of a new approach (using animal-based welfare outcomes) to investigate the association between the animal welfare status of finishing pigs on-farm and the occurrence of Yersinia enterocolitica and Salmonella enterica in slaughtered pigs in Northern Italy. Thirty batches of finishing pigs were assessed for animal-, resource- and management-based measures according to the Welfare Quality protocol for pigs on-farm and at slaughter. A sample of five individuals per batch was tested for Y. enterocolitica and S. enterica in tonsils and in mesenteric lymph nodes, respectively, and gross pathological changes were recorded. Environmental faecal samples per batch on-farm were tested for the same pathogens. Univariable logistic regression models were used to investigate the association between batches of pigs that were positive to Y. enterocolitica and S. enterica and indicators of poor welfare. The animal-based measures of welfare, greater on-farm mortality and poor human-animal relationship, were found to be associated with Y. enterocolitica. This study provides a good indication of the validity of this approach, but there is a need for larger-scale studies in the future to confirm the magnitude of the associations between these animal welfare and food safety indicators.

Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 25
Issue 3
Pages 355-363
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
DOI 10.7120/09627286.25.3.355
Language English
Author Address Department of Veterinary Science, University of Parma, Parma,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal housing
  3. Animals
  4. Animal science
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Bacteria
  7. Carcasses
  8. Clinical aspects
  9. Contamination
  10. Countries
  11. Developed countries
  12. Europe
  13. Feasibility
  14. Feces
  15. Food safety
  16. Food science
  17. Health
  18. Humans
  19. Indicators
  20. Infectious diseases
  21. Italy
  22. lymphatic system
  23. Mammals
  24. Meat animals
  25. Meat production
  26. Mediterranean region
  27. Men
  28. models
  29. mortality
  30. Non-communicable diseases and injuries
  31. OECD countries
  32. pathogens
  33. pathology
  34. Pigs
  35. Primates
  36. prokaryotes
  37. Research
  38. residues
  39. safety
  40. Salmonella
  41. Stress
  42. Suiformes
  43. Symptoms
  44. toxicology
  45. ungulates
  46. vertebrates
  47. Veterinary sciences
  48. Zoology