A somewhat strange report from MSN News India describes measures that are being considered following an outbreak of salmonellosis that killed 3 tigers at Bannerghatta Biological Park.  The zoo authority is investigating whether tests used by the Indian army to detect Salmonella in milk and milk products could be used to detect Salmonella in meat.

Testing of meat for Salmonella is a reasonable consideration, but it really depends on how often meat samples are contaminated.

  • If most meat samples have Salmonella, what will be done with the results and the meat? The cats have to eat, and unless they have a plan to throw out all positive food or do something to it eliminate Salmonella (like cooking it), testing might be of limited use.
  • Also, if Salmonella is usually there at low levels and problems only occur with sporadic high level contamination, or contamination with particularly virulent strains, then using a test that just says "Salmonella yes" or "Salmonella no" may not help much.

It is also reported that "the authority is also in talks with some firms to come up with a microwave which has the capacity to kill microbes in 300-400 kg of meat at a time."

  • This is questionable since it’s probably a lot of expense to develop a large microwave, and particularly since microwaving is not a reliable method of killing Salmonella. If there is a need to treat the meat to kill Salmonella, there are more reliable measures, such as cooking in a conventional oven, irradiation or high pressure pasteurization.

Another bizarre aspect is someone from the zoo authority stated "In Canada, when 7,000 pet dogs died on being fed infected beef last year, some firms there came up with a microwave with the capacity to kill microbes in 500 kg of beef in three to four minutes. We are exploring the possibility of similar technological innovation being implemented here, for which we are in talks with some technicians".

  • I have no idea what this guy is talking about. I am not aware of any outbreak killing 7000 dogs in Canada (and if it really happened, I’m pretty sure I’d be well aware, if not in the middle of it).

On the positive side, all of the tigers that survived have now completely recovered and no new cases have been identified.