According to the official statistics, approximately 1200 persons are domestically infected with Campylobacter each year, but the true number is probably much higher according to Gro Johnsen. She has done research on Campylobacter, and defended recently her PhD thesis at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science.
Consumption of poultry meat purchased raw, for instance broiler fillet, is regarded as a risk factor for acquiring the disease. Campylobacter is decimated through food production, but the bacterium is readily transmitted to salad and other ready-to-eat foods due to poor kitchen hygiene and cross contamination from contaminated utensils, Johnsen says.
Johnsen has studied the transmission routes for Campylobacter, from environment on to live broilers at farm, and cross contamination in the slaughterhouse. She found extensive presence of Campylobacter on the courtyards, and that infected drinking water and lacking hygienic routines caused infection of the broilers.
- A surprising finding was the high prevalence of Campylobacter in surface water in the vicinity of the broiler farms, Johnsen tells. It is well known that the bacterium can be isolated from water, but that it can be so commonly found is worrying.
Johnsen also found that the carcasses and the slaughterhouse environment, including the air, were considerably contaminated during the slaughtering of infected flocks.
To prevent Campylobacter infecting the live poultry at farm, proper hygienic barriers and clean disinfected drinking water are important. During slaughter, measures have to be implemented to prevent the transmission of Campylobacter to clean carcasses, to the slaughterhouse workers and to prevent infected retail products to be distributed.
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