Scientific Opinion on Campylobacter in broiler meat production: control options and performance objectives and/or targets at different stages of the food chain
It is estimated that there are approximately nine million cases of human campylobacteriosis per year in the EU27. The disease burden of campylobacteriosis and its sequelae is 0.35 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) per year and total annual costs are 2.4 billion €. Broiler meat may account for 20% to 30% of these, while 50% to 80% may be attributed to the chicken reservoir as a whole (broilers as well as laying hens). The public health benefits of controlling Campylobacter in primary broiler production are expected to be greater than control later in the chain as the bacteria may also spread from farms to humans by other pathways than broiler meat. Strict implementation of biosecurity in primary production and GMP/HACCP during slaughter may reduce colonization of broilers with Campylobacter, and contamination of carcasses. The effects cannot be quantified because they depend on many interrelated local factors. In addition, the use of fly screens, restriction of slaughter age, or discontinued thinning may further reduce consumer risks but have not yet been tested widely. After slaughter, a 100% risk reduction can be reached by irradiation or cooking of broiler meat on an industrial scale. More than 90% risk reduction can be obtained by freezing carcasses for 2-3 weeks. A 50-90% risk reduction can be achieved by freezing for 2-3 days, hot water or chemical carcass decontamination. Achieving a target of 25% or 5% BFP in all other MS is estimated to result in 50% and 90% reduction of public health risk, respectively. A public health risk reduction > 50% or > 90% could be achieved if all batches would comply with microbiological criteria with a critical limit of 1000 or 500 CFU/gram of neck and breast skin, respectively, while 15% and 45% of all tested batches would not comply with these criteria.