Test: Too many germs in the poultry meat

Test: Too many germs in the poultry meat

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Potential pathogens on every second poultry meat sample

There is still a problem with the germ load in poultry meat, according to one of the key statements of the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) in the report on representative zoonosis monitoring 2013 published yesterday. "High carcass contamination rates of around 50 percent with potentially pathogenic germs make it clear that poultry slaughter hygiene needs to be improved comprehensively, ”reports the BVL.

According to the BVL, around half of all samples of slaughtered broilers from 2013 were contaminated with potentially pathogenic germs, including many multi-resistant bacteria that cannot be treated with the usual antibiotics. The BVL advocated extensive changes in slaughtering hygiene in view of the persistently high levels of germs in poultry meat. Significant improvements in hygiene practices are urgently needed.

According to the BVL, the zoonoses monitoring in 2013 "took a total of 5,669 samples at all levels of the food chain and examined them by the federal state's investigation facilities for the presence of the most important foodborne pathogens." 3,515 bacterial isolates were in the national reference laboratories Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and their resistance to selected antibiotics.

Significant increase in exposure to Campylobacter For example, the increase in the rate of contamination of broiler carcasses with Campylobacter bacteria was particularly alarming. If the germs were detected in zoonoses monitoring in 2011 on almost 41 percent of broilers, the proportion of contaminated samples in 2013 was a good 52 percent. "In view of the high number of human diseases from Campylobacter infection, there is a need for action from the point of view of consumer health protection," the BVL announced. Campylobacter infections can include symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In immunocompromised patients, a chronic course threatens and in the worst case the infection can reach life-threatening proportions.

MRSA germs detected in many cases Furthermore, MRSA germs were detected in about half of the broiler carcasses (49.0 percent) and in around 20 percent of the samples of fresh chicken meat. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are resistant to various antibiotics and, for example, are responsible for a large number of annual hospital infections. However, so-called "farm animal-associated" MRSA strains were predominantly found on poultry meat, reports the BVL. They are not expected to be transmitted to humans. In addition, according to the current state of science, there is no risk of colonization or infection from the consumption or handling of foods that are contaminated with MRSA. Nevertheless, the extremely high load of poultry meat compared to other types of meat remains questionable. According to the BVL, for example, MRSA can only be detected in around five percent of the carcasses of fattening cattle.

More resistant pathogens in poultry than in beef According to the BVL, the results of the antibiotic resistance tests as part of the zoonosis monitoring have confirmed the findings from previous years and showed that “isolates from the food chain broilers generally have higher resistance rates than isolates from the food chain For example, around half of the Campylobacter jejuni isolates from the beef chain are resistant to all substances, while the average proportion of resistant isolates in poultry meat reached 66 percent. Overall, however, a decline in resistances tended to be observed in 2013 compared to previous years in zoonoses monitoring, according to the positive aspect in the BVL notification. (fp)

> Photo credit: Rainer Sturm / pixelio.de

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