NZ: Campylobacter strategy making progress

The number of New Zealanders getting sick from campylobacter has taken a dive following a concerted effort to combat the bug in chicken meat, said Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson.

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority adopted a risk management plan in 2006 to work with the poultry industry to tackle campylobacter at various points in the food chain, reports New Zealand's Voxy.

"The data shows that reported cases totalled about 6,850 in 2007 and dropped to about 3,500 in 2008, with this year's figures tracking similar lines. Campylobacter cases can fluctuate quite easily so there is no certainty, but the trend we are seeing suggests the number of human cases has effectively halved in just three years - three years earlier than the goal of 2012. That's a lot fewer New Zealanders getting sick, which is a great result," she said.

Campylobacteriosis accounts for about 90% of the $86 mln lost to the country each year in direct health costs and lost productivity through foodborne illness, reports state. Numbers of people suffering from the illness had been on the rise since 1996, with the highest total attributed to food (8650) recorded in 2006.

Work is continuing with the poultry industry to develop both mandatory and non-regulatory interventions from the farm through to final processing to tackle the campylobacter pathogen.

"There is still plenty more work to do, but the signs are positive that this partnership approach is having a real impact and I look forward to that continuing."

Source: Voxy

Natalie Berkhout

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