Ireland’s Food Safety Authority is calling on the country’s poultry industry to develop a voluntary code of practice to control Campylobacter and adopt other measures to reduce the number of deaths that occur as a result of campylobacteriosis.
Among the recommendations are that on-farm hygiene should be improved and access to possible sources of contamination restricted. The FSAI is also calling for the establishment of a voluntary monitoring system to be implemented on-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.
The authority is also calling for raw chicken to be packaged in leak-proof packaging, and that safe handling and cooking instructions should be clearly visible at the time of purchase. Additionally, labels on whole birds should advise consumers that carcasses are ready to cook and that in the interest of safe handling, washing of the carcass should be avoided, as this can significantly spread contamination around the kitchen.
Data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows that in 2009, 1,808 cases of campylobacteriosis were reported and the provisional figure for 2010 is 1,666. “Campylobacter causes approximately four times more illness that Salmonella in Ireland," said Professor Alan Reilly, CEO of the FSAI. "We believe there is substantial under-reporting of the illness and as such, these figures in reality could be considerably higher. Measures must be taken by all parties to limit the risk of people becoming ill from these bacteria.”
According to Reilly, a recent European study revealed that some 83% of Irish flocks presented for slaughter and 98% of whole birds at the end of the slaughter process are contaminated with Campylobacter.