FSAI advises on need to control Campylobacter contamination

Campylobacter infections can cause acute gastroenteritis with diarrhoea and/or vomiting

Authority welcomes retailers' widespread adoption of leak-proof packaging for poultry products



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28 January 2015

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Campylobacteriosis continues to be the most commonly reported foodborne illness in Ireland with 10 times more cases reported than Salmonellosis, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said today.

Some 2,288 cases of food poisoning due to Campylobacter were recorded in 2013, compared to over 2,600 in 2014.* The FSAI highlighted records that suggest Campylobacteriosis figures across Europe have stabilised, but this is not the experience in Ireland.

The figures recorded by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre in Ireland are the highest since Campylobacteriosis became legally notifiable in 2004. The authority says cross industry and consumer responses are needed to tackle the problem.

The FSAI would support setting a microbiological hygiene standard for poultry meat at European level. A similar approach was adopted as part of European controls for Salmonella which proved successful.

Campylobacter infections can cause acute gastroenteritis with diarrhoea and/or vomiting, and can be severe and life threatening in vulnerable people, such as the very young, the old and those with any underlying health condition. Similar to all bacteria found naturally on meat and poultry, the danger posed by Campylobacter can be removed by thoroughly cooking products and by preventing cross-contamination between raw meat and ready-to-eat foods.

In 2011, the FSAI Scientific Committee published a number of key recommendations to help reduce the risk of Campylobacteriosis. The committee recommended that chicken flocks are systemically and regularly tested for Campylobacter before they are presented for slaughter.

Dr Wayne Anderson, director of Food Science and Standards, FSAI, welcomed the fact that following its recommendation, leak-proof packaging has been widely adopted. He said  retailers should source chicken products from producers using leak-proof packaging solutions.

“Where chicken is sold in conventional packaging, retailers should review their food safety management systems to control the risk of Campylobacter spreading to ready-to-eat foods,” he added. “For conventional packaging, we would recommend that retailers consider providing specific bags to place the chicken in and therefore, better protect against leakage and cross-contamination.”




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