October 19, 2018

Netherlands May Limit Level of Campylobacter on Chicken

A report from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands states that the Dutch government “intends to limit the level of Campylobacter bacteria on chicken meat, a so-called process hygiene criterion.” That means that if higher levels of the bacteria are found repeatedly in a particular slaughterhouse, that facility will need to evaluate their processing hygiene. The government has been focusing on “farm to fork” hygiene, looking at everything from slaughterhouse conditions to consumer food preparation standards.

chicken breasts styrofoamCampylobacter infections are a common foodborne illness in the Netherlands. Researchers say that about 30% of all food poisoning cases can be “attributed to the consumption and preparation of broiler chicken meat.” Most cases are likely caused by cross-contamination in the kitchen from uncooked chicken and foods that are eaten raw, such as salads. Undercooked poultry is another source of the illnesses.

The authors say that a limit of 1000 Campylobacter bacteria per gram would reduce the number of human Campylobacter infections by two-thirds.  The cost of Campylobacter illnesses in the Netherlands every year is about 9 million euro. And the estimated cost to the poultry industry to meet the new criteria would be 2 million euro per year, a considerably lower number.

In the United States, researchers at the University of Georgia recently found that the presence of Campylobacter on the farm is linked to consumers becoming ill.  And a 2010 study by Consumer Reports found that 62% of the chickens purchased in American supermarket are contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria.

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