In the European Union, campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis are the two most frequently reported food-borne illness in humans, being broiler meat, one of the most important sources of these human diseases.
In order to establish baseline and comparable values for all Member states, a European Union-wide baseline survey was carried to determine the prevalence of Campylobacter in broiler batches and of Campylobacter and Salmonella on broiler carcasses. The broiler batches and carcasses were randomly selected from broiler slaughterhouses within each Member state, plus Norway and Switzerland who were also included in the study.
The results shows that at Community level the prevalence of Campylobacter-colonised broiler batches was 71.2%, and that of Campylobacter-contaminated broiler carcasses was 75,8%. Also, about two thirds of the Campylobacter isolates from the broiler batches as well as those from broiler carcasses were identified as Campylobacter jejuni, while one third was Campylobacter coli.
Analyzing the counts of Campylobacter bacteria on broiler carcasses the survey shows that in the EU, almost half (47%) of the carcasses contained less than 10 Campylobacter per g (cfu/g) and 12.2 % contained between 10-99 cfu/g. Higher counts were detected as follows: between 100-999 cfu/g on 19.3%, between 1000-10000 cfu/g on 15.8%, and more than 10000 cfu/g on 5.8 % of carcasses.
The Community prevalence of Salmonella-contaminated broiler carcasses was 15.7% at slaughterhouse level, and it varied widely among Member States, from 0.0% to 26.6%. However, Hungary had an exceptional high prevalence of 85.6%
Finally, at EU level the four most frequently isolated Salmonella serovars on broiler carcasses were respectively, in decreasing order, Salmonella Infantis (29.2%), Salmonella Enteritidis (13.6%), Salmonella Kentucky (6.2%) and Salmonella Typhimurium (4.4%).
This survey reinforces the information given by health authorities about the need of safe handling of raw meat, thorough cooking and strict kitchen hygiene, as the most important ways to prevent or reduce the risk posed by Campylobacter and Salmonella-contaminated broiler meat.