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Keywords:

  • Food-borne zoonoses;
  • farm biosecurity;
  • farmer attitudes;
  • cost;
  • adoption

Summary

To date there has been little research in the UK on farmer adoption of biosecurity measures to control food-borne zoonoses that have little or no impact on animal health or production but which threaten public health. Campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis are the two most common causes of food-borne infectious intestinal disease in people in Great Britain, causing approximately 57 000 and 13 000 reported cases in 2007 respectively (Anon 2008a) with an important cost to society. Poultry are an important source of both infections, while pigs may also contribute to human salmonellosis. However, these infections in poultry and pigs seldom cause disease. Research has shown that improved farm biosecurity may reduce the prevalence of these infections in livestock and if the majority of farmers were prepared to enhance biosecurity then there could be an important impact on public health. This article reports on the findings of two studies of farmer attitudes to and cost of the adoption of on-farm biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of animal diseases and therefore enhance food safety. One study, of Campylobacter infection among broiler flocks, is based on a survey of farmers faced with a hypothetical biosecurity intervention, while the other study, of Salmonella infection among pigs, is based on the participation of a group of farmers in an intervention study. In both cases, the results show a clear inverse relationship between the willingness of farmers to adopt a biosecurity measure and its estimated cost. This finding has implications for the success of on-farm biosecurity-enhancement policies based on voluntary adoption by farmers. In particular, financial inducements or penalties to farmers could be necessary to facilitate adoption of these measures.