Denmark has unveiled a new plan to tackle Campylobacter and reduce the number of cases.
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) says that the risk of getting sick from Danish chicken meat has decreased since 2013, and samples show that the pathogen is most often found in imported chickens.
Action plans for 2022 to 2026 were developed with the industry and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).
Every year, about 4,000 people in Denmark get sick from Campylobacter in their diet. The University of Copenhagen calculated the socio-economic cost of a single registered case of Campylobacter at DKK 250,000 (US $ 35,400). Overall, this amounts to over DKK 1 billion ($ 140 million) per year.
“The main focus of our strategy and action plan is on chicken meat, which is the biggest source of infection,” said Annette Parg of Fodeverresterlsen.
The goal has been missed in past tactics
As well as focusing on Campylobacter in broiler production, other key areas will be identified for outbreaks and sources of infection other than poultry will be uncovered.
The document reflects changes in production patterns, such as more outdoor sails and slower processes due to welfare issues.
In the action plan from 2018 to 2021, the goal was to reduce the number of Campylobacter patients by 5 percent per year. This goal was not reached in 2018 and 2019, when the number of sick people increased. It was affected by a major outbreak in 2019, but the use of better reporting systems and new advanced methods. The target was reached in 2020 and possibly 2021, but special circumstances during the COVID-19 epidemic probably played a role.
The goal was to reduce the risk of getting sick by eating chicken meat by 50 percent compared to 2013. Although this has not yet been achieved, the risk has been reduced by 25 percent.
Another goal for broiler flocks was to maintain the Campylobacter outbreak at the same level as in 2017 which was 17.6 percent. This target was also missed but the incidence dropped from 24.6 percent in 2018 to 20.4 percent in 2020.
The goal of the new plan
From 2022 to 2026, targets will be set to reduce the risk of consumers getting sick from Danish chicken meat. There will be separate targets for large and medium-sized slaughterhouses.
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration is working on a model to publish results from monitoring poultry imported into the Danish and retail markets.
Attempts will be made to develop a cheaper and faster method for typing Campylobacter to detect slaughterhouse and herd problems, and to see how whole-genome sequencing can be used more widely to identify sources of infection. Data sharing between poultry slaughterhouses and authorities will also be evaluated.
Campylobacter monitoring in broilers can be adjusted based on sample type, sampling point and sample size choice. The source attribution work will continue with a focus on poultry.
Measures to prevent or reduce infected swarms such as feed additives, modified production methods, freezing techniques and surface treatment will be considered.
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