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.
Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI)