1 March 2012
Campylobacter is a poorly recognized foodborne pathogen, leading the statistics of bacterially caused human diarrhoea in Europe during the last years.
In this review, we present qualitative and quantitative German data obtained in the framework of specific monitoring programs and from routine surveillance. These also comprise recent data on antimicrobial resistances of food isolates. Due to the considerable reduction of in vitro growth capabilities of stressed bacteria, there is a clear discrepancy between the detection limit of Campylobacter by cultivation and its infection potential. Moreover, antimicrobial resistances of Campylobacter isolates established during fattening of livestock are alarming, since they constitute an additional threat to human health.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) discusses the establishment of a quantitative limit for Campylobacter contamination of broiler carcasses in order to achieve an appropriate level of protection for consumers. Currently, a considerable amount of German broiler carcasses would not comply with this future criterion. We recommend Campylobacter reduction strategies to be focussed on the prevention of fecal contamination during slaughter. Decontamination is only a sparse option, since the reduction efficiency is low and its success depends on the initial contamination concentration.