Environmental testing for Salmonella Enteritidis is required for U.S. shell egg producers with ≥3,000 hens on a farm. The egg producer assumes all costs for the mandatory testing. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Egg Rule, either manure scraper or drag swabs can be collected according to published guidelines and requirements. The present study was undertaken to determine the efficacy of Salmonella detection with one-, two-, and four-swab pools of either manure scraper or drag swabs. Resistant isolates of Salmonella serovars Enteritidis (1,000 ppm of streptomycin), Heidelberg (200 ppm of nalidixic acid [NA]), Typhimurium (200 ppm of NA), and Kentucky (200 ppm of NA) were utilized. Low (approximately 8.4 CFU) and high (approximately 84 CFU) levels of inocula were introduced onto a single swab within a pool. Single flocks from each conventional cage (manure scraper swabs) and cage-free barn (drag swabs) were monitored throughout the study at the ages required under the FDA Egg Rule. The highest and most consistent recovery of inoculum was found in single swab samples. For low dose inocula, recovery of isolates was low from single manure scraper swabs (57.9 to 29.2%) and decreased as more swabs were added to the pool. Recovery of isolates from manure scraper swabs was higher for high dose inocula, although Salmonella Heidelberg was outcompeted by the naturally occurring flora and had the lowest rate of recovery among the isolates tested. One- and two-swab pools of drag swabs had similar rates of recovery at both low and high doses for Salmonella Enteritidis, Salmonella Heidelberg, and Salmonella Typhimurium. When Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Kentucky were combined in an inoculum, Salmonella Enteritidis was recovered at a much higher rate than was Salmonella Kentucky for all types of swabs and doses of inocula. Pooling of two drag swabs allowed for similar detection of low and high dose Salmonella, but the pooling of manure scraper swabs decreased detection of low dose Salmonella.
Analysis of single swabs resulted in the most consistent detection of Salmonella.
Addition of more manure scraper swabs in a sample decreased Salmonella detection.
Pooling of four drag swabs reduced the recovery of Salmonella after low dose inoculation.