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Volume 17, Number 6—June 2011


Marked Campylobacteriosis Decline after Interventions Aimed at Poultry, New Zealand

Ann Sears, Michael G. BakerComments to Author , Nick Wilson, Jonathan C. Marshall, Petra Muellner, Donald M. Campbell, Robin J. Lake, and Nigel P. French
Author affiliations: Author affiliations: University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand (A. Sears, M.G. Baker, N. Wilson); Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand (J. Marshall, P. Muellner, N.P. French); New Zealand Food Safety Authority, Wellington (D.M. Campbell); Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand (R.J. Lake)

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Key regulator and industry interventions and activities introduced in 2006–2008 to reduce poultry-associated foodborne campylobacteriosis, New Zealand*

Step Initiative Aim Comments
Primary production Development of voluntary Broiler Growing Biosecurity Manual by industry, building on existing industry biosecurity manuals and codes of practice Identify effective on-farm biosecurity procedures in the New Zealand context; set industry best practice for on-farm biosecurity to help prevent Campylobacter spp. infection of flocks Implemented in August 2007; developed by industry based on evaluation of existing on-farm biosecurity procedures and review of national and international best practice†
Improvements in procedures for catching and transporting birds and for cleaning/drying of transport crates Reduce possible cross infection between infected and non-infected birds during transport

Monitoring and reporting prevalence of Campylobacter spp. in cecal samples taken from birds from each growing shed each time birds are sent for processing
Determine the proportion of infected flocks; aid investigation of risk factors for flock infection; identify poor-performing farms
Implemented April 2007; reported to National Microbiological Database, administered by NZFSA‡
Processing Monitoring and reporting enumerated levels of Campylobacter spp. from rinsates of bird carcasses exiting the immersion-chiller (at the end of primary processing) Assess the effectiveness of risk mitigation strategies implemented on-farm and during processing in reducing Campylobacter spp. levels; inform development of national targets for Campylobacter spp. contamination at the end of primary processing Implemented April 2007; reported to the National Microbiological Database, administered by NZFSA
Industry exchange of information and implementation of improvements during primary processing (particularly immersion-chiller conditions) Identify cost-effective processing interventions that reduce the levels of Campylobacter spp. on broilers at completion of primary processing; inform an updated industry Code of Practice for primary poultry processing 2006–2008
Implementation of an updated industry Code of Practice for primary processing of poultry (slaughter and dressing) Set industry best practice for primary processing based on knowledge gained from previous processing trials Issued August 24, 2007; implemented March 2008§

Mandatory targets for Campylobacter spp. contamination levels on poultry carcasses after primary processing
Enable regulatory action to occur if poultry processors exceed a certain level of Campylobacter spp. contamination on broiler carcasses at the end of primary processing (on exiting the immersion-chiller)
Implemented April 2008; reported to the National Microbiological Database administered by NZFSA
Retail Voluntary use of leak-proof packaging Reduce potential for cross-contamination from contaminated packaging in retail and home settings Introduced for whole carcasses by most primary processors. Introduced for portion packs by some supermarkets

Intermittent monitoring of Campylobacter spp. contamination of retail poultry
Assess Campylobacter spp. levels in retail packs purchased by consumers; inform interventions and code of practice for secondary processing
Reflects Campylobacter spp. levels at primary processing and subsequent changes due to secondary processing, storage, distribution, and processing/handling at the retail outlet
Enhanced consumer education
Increase public awareness of food safety risk mitigation behaviors
Initially instigated in 1998 by NZFSA and the existing New Zealand Food Safety Partnership
Other Enhanced human campylobacteriosis surveillance and source attribution research Monitor source attribution of human campylobacteriosis to guide future interventions Source attribution work is ongoing to monitor the proportion of human campylobacteriosis cases attributable to different sources and transmission pathways

*NZFSA, New Zealand Food Safety Authority.
‡Mandatory cecal testing was discontinued July 2009.

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