Photo: Sebastian Kaulitzki
There are an estimated 9 million cases of campylobacteriosis in the EU alone each year, costing US$2.72 billion. There is still no definitive solution to control Campylobacter in poultry flocks. Yet, there are several strategies that can reduce its incidence, so improving food safety and enhancing farm profits.
Broiler producers need to apply a series of measures to reduce Campylobacter contamination levels. A mixed approach starts with improved biosecurity, changes to management practices, proven feed or water intervention with additives and, finally, intervention measures during slaughter.
Campylobacter spp have the potential to cause disease in poultry, diarrhea and reductions in feed efficiency.
Table 1 provides an overview of management strategies to counter Campylobacter. These management methods, however, are not all applicable universally, for example within the EU there are restrictions due either to availability legislation or consumer demand for carcass size. In addition to management strategies, there is also the option to use feed additives or water treatments, which can further reduce the level of Campylobacter contamination, as shown in Table 2. Of these, probiotics may be the most promising approach for controlling Campylobacter through nutritional interventions.
Table 1. Management strategies to counteract Campylobacter contamination in broilers.
Table 2. Nutritional strategies to counteract Campylobacter contamination in broilers.
Each of the interventions listed above will help to reduce overall contamination. Combined, they may possibly give the required reduction of Campylobacter contamination in finished broiler meat.
The impact of campylobacteriosis in humans is well known. It usually results in severe abdominal pains and diarrhea, which can lead to hospitalization. But it is worth remembering that it can lead to death and, in some cases, lead to serious complications, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, reactive arthritis, bacteremia, inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
A genuine, costly challenge
It is also important to remember that Campylobacter spp are not necessarily commensal bacteria but have been shown to have the potential to cause disease in poultry: diarrhea and reductions in feed efficiency.In the UK, for example, estimates suggest that the costs to the industry are up to US$29.16 per thousand broilers. Controlling the situation on farm is of benefit to poultry producers, and not just meeting contamination levels for poultry leaving the processing plant.