Campylobacteriosis reaches record levels in Ireland
Poultry industry, retailers urged to do more to tackle Campylobacter
Food poisoning in the Republic of Ireland due to Campylobacter has reached its highest level since records began, reports the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). The revelation is in contrast to figures released by the European Food Standards Authority and the European Centre for Disease Prevention, which show that campylobacteriosis figures across the rest of Europe have stabilized.
The FSAI states that the provisional figures recorded by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre are the highest since campylobacteriosis became legally notifiable in Ireland in 2004. Some 2,600 cases of food poisoning due to Campylobacter were recorded in 2014, compared with 2,288 in 2013.
Joint action needed
In 2011, the FSAI Scientific Committee published Campylobacter: Recommendations for a Practical Control Programme for Campylobacter in the Poultry Production and Slaughter Chain, which set out a number of key recommendations to assist in reducing the risk of campylobacteriosis from eating poultry.
According to Dr. Wayne Anderson, FSAI food science and standards director: “If the industry from producer right through to retailer comes together to put in scientific measures to reduce the levels of Campylobacter on poultry like it did for Salmonella, it would have a positive impact on the number of people becoming sick.”
The FSAI has said that it would support setting a microbiological hygiene standard for poultry meat at European level. This would create a maximum tolerance level for Campylobacter in poultry which could be reviewed over time. A similar approach was adopted as part of European controls for Salmonella.
Anderson continued: “In addition to a microbiological hygiene standard, we also recommend that chicken flocks are systematically and regularly tested for Campylobacter before they are presented for slaughter and from these data, poultry producers could improve their biosecurity to keep Campylobacter out of poultry houses. It would make sense that the processors and retailers would co-fund this testing program.”