A new goal to significantly reduce foodborne Campylobacter poisoning by 20% by 2025 was announced today.
The results of a study commissioned by New Zealand Food Safety to add greater scientific rigour to efforts to reduce food-borne illnesses were released today, too.
The study, Source assigned campylobacteriosis in New Zealand, found more than 80% of human food-borne cases are likely due to the consumption of poultry meat.
New Zealand Food Safety and the poultry industry, working collaboratively to reduce Campylobacter rates, have updated their strategy and action plan to include enhanced consumer education, better hygiene through the poultry processing and food distribution chain, and improved measures at the poultry farm level.
Bryan Wilson, deputy director-general for New Zealand Food Safety, said Campylobacter is the most common cause of notifiable food-borne illness in New Zealand. Symptoms can include stomach cramps, nausea, fever and diarrhoea, lasting for about a week.
“Contributing factors are Kiwis’ ever-increasing level of consumption of fresh chicken meat and the way we handle, prepare and cook poultry meat in New Zealand.”
New Zealand Food Safety’s risk management strategy – working with the poultry industry – has reduced food-borne cases more than 50% since 2006, Mr Wilson said.
“This is a substantial reduction and one that we could not have achieved without partnership and support from industry. But the rate of gastrointestinal illness caused by this bug remains high,” he said.
The 12-month study included interviews with 666 individuals who had been infected with the bug.
Besides identifying the sources of Campylobacter illnesses in humans, the study identified several factors that may increase the likelihood of an individual contracting the disease.
“We’ll continue our work with industry to drive down the level of Campylobacter in poultry by understanding where the bacteria enter the food chain and where cross-contamination is likely happening,” Mr Wilson said.
“It’s important consumers know how to prevent Campylobacter in the home by continuing to follow the advice on the New Zealand Food Safety web page Clean, Cook, Chill.”
Mr Wilson emphasised the importance of cooking chicken properly until the juices run clear and having good hygiene practises at home to prevent cross-contamination to minimise the risk from Campylobacter and other foodborne illnesses.