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Campylobacteriosis in 98% of Irish poultry carcasses

Poultry is regarded as one of the most important reservoirs for Campylobacter species and constitutes a very significant vehicle for the transmission to humans. The result of a recent EU wide baseline study revealed an Irish prevalence in broiler batches of 83.1% and a prevalence of 98.3% on carcasses at the end of slaughtering process.

As a result of this baseline study, a report entitled Recommendations for a Practical Control Programme for Campylobacter in the Poultry Production and Slaughter Chain was produced by the Scientific Committee of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) recommending a series of practical measures to be taken by poultry farmers, processors and retailers to reduce the incidence of the harmful Campylobacter bacteria in poultry.

The FSAI’s Scientific Committee’s report considers a European finding that handling and preparation of chicken and consumption of undercooked chicken meat accounts for approximately 30% of human cases of campylobacteriosis. The scientific report recommends that the poultry industry develops and implements its own voluntary code of practice based on the recommended control measures detailed in the report. The report also recommends:

• Improved on-farm hygiene and restricting access to possible source of contamination
• A voluntary monitoring programme on the farm and in the slaughterhouse to alert farmers and processors when additional controls are needed and to enable them to assess the effectiveness of their control measures
• Raw chicken is packaged in leak-proof packaging
• Safe handling and cooking instructions should be clearly visible [on labels or in butchers] at time of purchase  
• Labels on whole birds should advise consumers that carcasses are ready-to-cook and that in the interests of safe handling,  washing of the carcass should be avoided, as this can significantly spread contamination around the kitchen.

“The current level of contamination of chicken with Campylobacter needs to be reduced to improve public health. The Irish poultry industry has been very effective in reducing Salmonella on poultry and now needs to make further improvements to address the Campylobacter problem,” said Prof. Alan Reilly, CEO, FSAI.

Related website
Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI)

Editor WorldPoultry


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    Evarest Onwubiko

    It is interesting to know that despite the measures to reduce the prevalence of Campylobacter in poultry, it's rather growing at geometrical rate.
    This study has actually shown that 4 of 5 carcasses processed at the abattoir are infected with Campylobacter.
    My question is, should we believe or assume that consumers have developed resistance to clinical Campylobacteriosis? It is simple to deduce from the reported prevalence of 83% at farm level and 98% following processing, that human cases should approximate 50% looking at the extreme ages and people with certain immuno-surpressing conditions. Otherwise, it would reasonable to say that Campylobacterious in poultry plays less significant role in human camplylobacteriosis.

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    Roy Biggs

    Making changes that will impact on the prevalence of Campylobacter on broiler chickens is very difficult. Prevalence is far too broad a brush to be used for monitoring purposes - there is a big difference, in terms of risk of human illness between a bird having 400 cfus on the carcass and one having >100,000. The prevalence test just indicates that both birds have Campylobacter present.
    The approach in New Zealand is to use enumeration to quantify the numbers on the bird. This method permits measurement of progress towards the reduction of risk to consumers.
    In NZ there has been a 60% reduction in the incidence of human Campylobacter illness over the past 5 years and a measurable decrease in the numbers of Campylobacter on the broilers.
    The enumeration method has allowed the effectiveness of the control measures trialled to be effectively evaluted in terms that are meaningful to the Public Health Objective of reducing illness.

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