The still small voice of reason is now being heard and concrete steps are being taken to understand and reduce the problem, which is not unique to New Zealand*. The New Zealand Food Safety Authority is studying possible control measures. Researchers at
So does that mean that campylobacteriosis in New Zealand is under control? I don’t think so. I believe that it is highly unlikely that Campylobacter can be eradicated in poultry, at least in the short term. There are also other sources of the bacteria in our food supply and in the environment. Only a couple of weeks ago, a number of mountain bikers taking part in a contest became ill with campylobacteriosis. No food source could be identified as the source; infected surface water and mud, which had covered the competitors as they splashed through the puddles, was blamed as the source.
Distributors, wholesalers and retailers, together with the consumers themselves, must take some responsibility for the safety of food. Even though campylobacteriosis has been shown to be linked with consumption of undercooked barbecued chicken, I am not convinced that
Should we eat the chicken? You bet!
* Work conducted in Hong Kong by my team showed that between 50 and 60% of fresh chicken was contaminated with Campylobacter. This dropped to about 30% if the poultry had been frozen. These rates of contamination are entirely consistent with figures reported for other countries.