In 2007, EFSA adopted a scientific opinion on public health risks involved in the human consumption of reptile meat according to which reptiles are well-known reservoirs for Salmonella species. The scientific opinion reviews farming practices and observes a documented high intestinal carrier rate in live crocodilians that is reflected in an equally high contamination rate in their fresh and frozen meat. The scientific opinion concludes that Salmonella is considered to be the most relevant bacterial hazard that may occur in reptile meat and it constitutes a significant public health risk.
Production of reptile meat in the Union is limited, but according to data available in Eurostat’s reference database for detailed statistics on international trade in goods (Comext) , imports from third countries of fresh, chilled or frozen meat and edible offal of reptiles have shown an upward trend over the last ten years with an increase of over 50% in the quantity imported during the period 2007-2017 and an average yearly import in the Union of nearly 100 tons.
Considering the potential significant health risk posed by the possible presence of Salmonella in reptile meat, a food safety criterion should be laid down in Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 for reptile meat. This food safety criterion should oblige food business operators to take measures at previous stages of reptile meat production contributing to the reduction of the presence of all serotypes of Salmonella with public health significance.
The international standard EN/ISO 6579-1 is the horizontal method for the detection of Salmonella in food and animal feeding stuffs. Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 provides for that standard to be the analytical reference method for Salmonella food safety criteria. It should, therefore, be laid down as the analytical reference method to verify the compliance of a Salmonella in reptile meat food safety criterion.
Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 should therefore be amended accordingly.