A recently published report from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) suggests that placing a maximum limit of 1000 cfu/g on Campylobacter in chicken meat would reduce the number of human cases of infection by two thirds.
The report, Microbiological Criteria as a Decision Tool for Controlling Campylobacter in the Broiler Meat Chain, comes as the Dutch government seeks to introduce a ‘process hygiene criterion’ for Campylobacter on chicken meat in an attempt to cut the number of human infections and improve slaughterhouse hygiene. RIVM looked at historical data on the level of contamination on chicken carcases and on processed chicken meat to determine the effect of different criteria on public health and costs for the processing industry.
The authors conclude that many cases of infection are caused by cross contamination in domestic kitchens when heavily contaminated chicken meat is handled. Reducing the number of pathogens on the meat after processing could reduce the cross contamination risk considerably. The optimum critical limit was found to be 1000 cfu/g, which it is estimated could be achieved at a cost to the industry of approximately €2 million each year.
The full report can be found here.