Don’t leave food safety to chance

Farm Forum

Dairy producers are proud to raise animals that feed the world. But food safety risks are always lurking, so producers must work tirelessly to continue the dairy industry’s strong track record. One of today’s growing risks is Salmonella on dairy operations. A U.S. Department of Agriculture study found that salmonellosis has nearly doubled in dairy herds, with twice the incidence in dairy cows since 1996.1

“Healthy animals translate to healthy food, and ignoring Salmonella would be a gamble,” said Gary Neubauer, DVM, Zoetis. “Since Salmonella is a significant foodborne pathogen that could contaminate milk and meat, producers need to combat the infections with the best tools available.”

The 2,500 known Salmonella serotypes are resilient enough to survive in many environments. Salmonella causes the illness salmonellosis in dairy cattle, detrimentally affecting cattle health and food safety.

While proper food preparation can help eliminate the effects of Salmonella for humans, producers can help prevent Salmonella on the dairy. Here are ways Dr. Neubauer suggests to keep your dairy healthy:

· On-farm biosecurity is paramount to keeping food safe. Ask visitors to sign in before exploring the dairy. Provide a sanitization protocol for anyone in contact with feed or cattle.

· Clean hands, clothes and boots for workers and visitors alike can help slow the spread of Salmonella. Evaluate hand-wash and boot-sanitization stations around your farm and office, and consider whether you have enough of them at the right locations.

· Birds, rodents and other pests can spread Salmonella. Do your best to eliminate these nuisances from contact with feed, water and animal housing areas.

· Limit buildup of manure in the holding pen and alleyways by scraping or flushing these areas regularly.

· Herd expansions, including the purchase of just one animal, heighten the risk of contracting Salmonella and other diseases. Carefully evaluate the source herd’s disease status. Take Salmonella cultures on purchased cattle when possible. Ensure new acquisitions are transported using clean equipment. Use a quarantine area to monitor new animals before mixing them with the herd.

· Proper colostrum management will help prevent the spread of Salmonella. Don’t pool colostrum from several cows to use for feeding calves. Clean and sanitize bottles and other calf feeding equipment to keep pathogen levels low. Use potassium sorbate, on-farm pasteurization or colostrum replacer to nullify the problem bacteria.

· Vaccinate the entire herd at dry off using Salmonella Newport Bacterial Extract Vaccine with SRP technology to help control the disease and control the shedding of Salmonella Newport.

· Always follow sanitization procedures outlined in the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance and the National Beef Quality Assurance program. Understanding these laws and guidelines will not only allow you to minimize Salmonella risk but also help secure your dairy from experiencing many other hazards.

“No herd is completely safe from Salmonella,” Dr. Neubauer said. “The stress and financial drain associated with a severe outbreak isn’t worth leaving to fate.”

Take advantage of the tips provided at to identify your farm’s risk factors. Discuss the results with your veterinarian to create your farm’s Salmonella prevention plan and vaccination protocol.