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Finishing pigs carrying Salmonella enterica are believed to be the main source of carcass contamination at the beginning of slaughtering. The aim of this study was to assess the S. enterica carrier status of finishing pigs at herd level by sampling pooled faeces on farm and mesenteric lymph nodes at slaughter in the North East of Italy. Environmental faecal samples belonging to 30 batches of pigs were collected on farm. At slaughter, mesenteric lymph nodes were collected from five randomly selected pigs per batch. S. enterica was isolated from 16 lymph nodes out of 150 (10.6%) and from seven out of 30 (23.3%) faecal samples. Four batches (13.3%) were positive to S. enterica both in lymph nodes and in faeces. The number of batches positive to S. enterica either in lymph nodes or in faeces was 13 out of 30 (43.3%). The most prevalent serovars from lymph nodes were S. Derby (25.0%) and S. Typhimurium monophasic variant 1, 4,,12:i:- (18.6%), which were also isolated from faecal material (14.3 and 42.8% respectively). Contaminated faecal material or lymph nodes could be a primary source of carcass contamination at slaughter during evisceration. S. enterica contamination is widespread on pig farms and carrier pigs pass undetected the inspection visits at slaughter, entering the food chain. Therefore, in order to control S. enterica in pigs, the need to quantify possible risk factors at slaughter and develop effective management strategies on farm is of paramount importance to ensure food safety.
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