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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Control of salmonella and other zoonotic agents

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Control of salmonella and other zoonotic agents

Protecting human health against diseases and infections transmissible directly or indirectly between animals and humans is of paramount importance. The Member States are setting up national programmes to detect and control salmonella and other specified food-borne zoonotic agents.


Regulation (EC) No 2160/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the control of salmonella and other specified food-borne zoonotic agents (See amending acts).


Salmonella and other zoonotic agents cause animal diseases which are transmissible to humans.

The main animal species likely to transmit an infection or infestation are poultry and pigs for which Member States should establish control programmes. These programmes are developed in accordance with the provisions laid down in this Directive.

European Union action

The European Union (EU) has rules concerning:

  • targets to reduce the prevalence of certain zoonoses in animal populations at the level of primary production and, where necessary, at other appropriate stages of the food chain;
  • approval of specific control programmes;
  • adoption of rules on certain specific control methods;
  • adoption of rules on intra-European trade and imports of certain animals and animal products from non-EU member countries.

This Regulation does not apply to primary production for private domestic use or for direct supply in small quantities, by the producer, to the final consumer or to local retail establishments directly supplying the final consumer. The Member States are to establish their own specific national legislation on these activities.

European Union targets

The EU sets European targets in consultation with Member States in order to reduce salmonella and other zoonotic agents in poultry and pork. These targets concern primary production. They contain:

  • a numerical expression of the proportion of the animal population remaining positive;
  • the maximum time limit for achieving the target;
  • the definition of epidemiological units;
  • the definition of the testing schemes;
  • the definition of salmonella serotypes with public health significance.

The deadlines for establishing the European targets are:

  • 12 December 2004 for breeding flocks of Gallus gallus;
  • 12 December 2005 for laying hens;
  • 12 December 2006 for broilers;
  • 12 December 2007 for turkeys and herds of slaughter pigs;
  • 12 December 2008 for breeding herds of pigs.

A transitional period of three years may be applied for each animal population. Application of the national programmes commences 18 months after the respective deadline for setting the European targets.

The national control programmes

In order to meet the European targets, Member States must establish three-year national control programmes for each zoonosis to be controlled. They must define the measures to be implemented and submit their national programmes to the Commission within six months of the European targets being set. The Commission then has two months within which to request any further information. Within two months of receiving this information or six months of the programme being submitted, the Commission will establish whether it complies with the European provisions.

The national control programmes must cover at least animal feed production, primary animal production, and processing and preparation of foodstuffs . The programmes will entail:

  • detection of zoonoses in accordance with minimum sampling and certain other specific requirements (Annex II of the Regulation). Testing for the presence of zoonoses will, in general, be by means of the methods and protocols recommended by international standardisation bodies;
  • defining the respective responsibilities of the competent authorities designated in each Member State;
  • defining the control measures to be taken in the event of zoonoses being detected, in the interests of public health protection; and
  • assessment of progress.

Food and feed business operators (or their representative organisations) may establish their own control programmes. As far as possible, these programmes must cover all stages of the food chain: production, processing and distribution. Such programmes may form part of a national control programme. Member States are responsible for keeping an up to date list of the approved food sector business operators’ control programmes and then regularly notifying the competent authorities of their results.

At the request of a Member State or of the Commission, it may be decided to establish the conditions of use for specific control methods. Some may even be excluded from the control programmes.

The poultry flocks and herds of pigs concerned are subject to zoonosis testing by 18 months at the latest following the respective deadline for establishing the European targets. The date and result of the tests will be entered in the health certificates for the animals or hatching eggs.

Intra-European trade

In the case of intra-European trade, the Member State of destination may require, for a transitional period that the results of the tests meet the same criteria as those applicable under the national control programme. The special measures in respect of export of live animals dispatched to Finland and Sweden continue to apply.

Imports from third countries

The provisions on imports of live animals and hatching eggs from third countries will apply at the latest 18 months following the deadline for establishing the European targets for each animal population.

Third countries shall present an equivalent control programme to that provided for in this Regulation. This is a pre-condition to being included on the list of third countries which are authorised to export products to the EU. The Food Veterinary Office shall verify the existence and effectiveness of the control programmes put in place by the third countries. In some cases, the Member State which imports products from a third country may require for a transitional period that the results of the tests meet the same criteria as those set by their own national control programme.

National laboratories

The Member States are responsible for designating national reference laboratories for the analysis and testing of zoonoses. These laboratories must apply quality assurance systems conforming to the requirements of the current EN/ISO standard. They must, in addition, collaborate with Community reference laboratories.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 2160/2003



OJ L 325 of 12.12.2003


Regulation (EC) No 199/2009 [Official Journal L 70 of 14.3.2009].

This derogation applies until 3 April 2012 to poultry and turkey meat intended to be provided solely in small quantities to the end consumer or to the retail trade. This meat has not undergone any preservation processes other than refrigeration, freezing or deep freezing.

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1003/2005



OJ L 170 of 1.7.2005

Regulation (EC) No 1791/2006



OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006

Regulation (EC) No 1237/2007



OJ L 280 of 24.10.2007

Regulation (EC) No 596/2009



OJ L 188 of 18.7.2009

Regulation (EU) No 517/2011



OJ L 138 of 26.5.2011

Regulation (EU) No 1086/2011



OJ L 281 of 28.10.2011

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EEC) No 2160/2003 have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.


517/2013 of 13 May 2013 adapting certain regulations and decisions in the fields of free movement of goods, freedom of movement for persons, company law, competition policy, agriculture, food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy, transport policy, energy, taxation, statistics, trans-European networks, judiciary and fundamental rights, justice, freedom and security, environment, customs union, external relations, foreign, security and defence policy and institutions, by reason of the accession of the Republic of Croatia (OJ L 158 of 10.6.2013).

Commission Regulation (EC) No 798/2008 of 8 August 2008 laying down a list of third countries, territories, zones or compartments from which poultry and poultry products may be imported into and transit through the Community and the veterinary certification requirements (OJ L 226 of 23.8.2008).

Directive 2003/99/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the monitoring of zoonoses and zoonotic agents, amending Council Decision 90/424/EEC and repealing Council Directive 92/117/EEC (OJ L 325 of 12.12.2003).

Last updated: 28.04.2014