An Overview of the SafePork 2009 International Symposium

The 8th International Symposium on the Epidemiology and Control of Foodborne Pathogens in Pork (SafePork 2009) was recently held in Quebec City, Canada. The attendance included over 160 people from many different countries. The symposium started with two guest speakers that discussed the current status and future challenges of the control of public health hazards in pork (Dr. Katarina Stark, from the Royal Veterinary College, London, UK), and the tradeoffs of applied interventions and food safety risk analysis (Dr. Scott Hurd, from Iowa State University, Ames, USA). A total of 105 studies were presented (60 oral and 45 poster presentations) in scientific sessions organized according to the following areas:

  • Foodborne pathogen epidemiology and control strategies;
  • Spatial epidemiology, risk factors and modeling;
  • Molecular epidemiology and pathogenesis of infection;
  • Viruses, parasites and emerging issues;
  • Antimicrobial resistance and reduction of antimicrobial agents use; and
  • Risk assessment and public health.

Although the issues presented and discussed during the symposium increased in diversity compared to previous editions of the event, Salmonella continued to be the main focus (29/60 oral presentations, and 21/45 poster presentations). A very limited number of studies targeting specific pre-harvest intervention strategies were presented. Discussions were centered on monitoring and surveillance strategies (particularly, based on serology), and modeling. Studies presented by Danish researchers suggest that Salmonella control programs should have different approaches, based on the size of the abattoirs. According to these studies (based on Danish data), small abattoirs should focus in pre-harvest (i.e., on-farm) control programs, whereas large abattoirs should focus in post-harvest interventions.

Other pathogens discussed included; Campylobacter coli, Clostridium difficile, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Yersinia enterocolitica, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli, Calicivirus, Hepatitis E virus, Trichinella, and Toxoplasma. A variety of epidemiological surveys with the objective of determining the food safety relevance of emerging pathogens, as well as their antimicrobial susceptibility/resistance profiles were presented. Other pork safety issues discussed included; antimicrobial use and resistance, carcass defects, and injection technology use (as a pre-harvest physical hazard).

During the symposium, Dr. Annette O'Connor (Iowa State University) introduced and discussed standards for reporting clinical trials and its application to food safety, with particular focus in intervention studies. REFLECT (Reporting Guidelines for Randomized Control Trials for Livestock and Food Safety) is an evidence-based minimum set of items for trials reporting production, health, and food-safety outcomes. It is an evolving document that is subject to change periodically as new evidence emerges (available at The REFLECT statement derives from the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) statement, which provides a check list for reporting trials in human medicine. REFLECT is part of a broader effort, to improve the reporting of different types of health research, and in turn to improve the quality of research used in decision-making in animal health and food safety.

At the end of the symposium, a compilation of the topics discussed as well a philosophical overview of pork safety was presented by Dr. Peter Davies (University of Minnesota). Additionally, the venues for the next two editions of the symposium were selected by the participants. The 9th edition of the symposium (SafePork 2011) will be held in Maarssen, The Netherlands, and the 10th edition (SafePork 2013) will be held in Boston, USA.

[AASV e-Letter wishes to thank Dr. Rostagno for providing this summary of the Safe Pork conference. If you have attended a conference lately and would be willing to provide a short synopsis of the meeting, please forward that to me at]