There’s been a lot of social media buzz recently about Campylobacter incidents and awareness. This week at Hawk, we’re taking a closer look at this dangerous bug, its effects, and how to avoid it. Let’s dive in.

What is Campylobacter?

Campylobacter is a prolific food-bourne bacterium and one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the UK. It is most often found in poultry, meat, and unpasteurized milk, and is responsible for over 280,000 instances of food poisoning per year. According to the Food Standards Agency, Campylobacter is present in over 65% of fresh chicken carcases in the retail industry and poses a significant risk to consumers. It causes around 100 deaths per year and costs the UK economy £900 million.

What are the effects?

When people refer to a case of ‘light food poisoning’, Campylobacter bacteria is most often the cause. The bacteria causes gastrointestinal infection and inflammation, which leads to vomiting, diarrhoea, cramps, fever, and sometimes dysentery. After ingestion, the bacteria has an incubation period of 2 to 5 days before symptoms start to appear. In most cases, Campylobacter is unpleasant but mostly harmless and passes out of the system within 2 to 3 days.

Occasionally, complications can occur in vulnerable groups, especially very young children. With excessive vomiting and diarrhoea, sufferers can dehydrate rapidly, causing secondary complications, so it’s essential to make sure they are well hydrated. If sufferers have a lowered immune system, it’s also possible for the Campylobacter infection to enter the bloodstream, with potentially lethal consequences. For more information on potential complications click here.

How does it get into my food?

The bacteria is an extremely common, naturally-occurring flora bacteria in animals and poultry. It is commonly thought to transmit to meat through faeces during the slaughtering process.

How do I avoid it?

Campylobacteriosis – the infection caused by the bacteria – requires large numbers of bacteria in order to occur. For this reason, most instances of ingestion produce ativan lorazepam no symptoms. Cooking infected food thoroughly drastically reduces the number of Campylobacter bacteria and renders it harmless.

Make sure that all meat and poultry products are cooked thoroughly before serving. A meat thermometer can help you to test for the ideal cooking temperature of your food. Take a look at the FSA minimum cooking temperatures or guidance on cooking with different meat and fish products.

What is the government doing?

Campylobacter rarely strikes with common-source outbreaks, and most cases are isolated events. This makes the bug particularly difficult to track and manage. However, the vast majority of Campylobacter cases are associated with undercooked poultry, and the FSA is working to reduce instances of the bacteria in poultry supply chains under their Campylobacter Risk Management program. Research about the lifecycle of the bacteria both inside and outside the host, as well as the quality of control methods used by farmers, is on-going.

For detailed information on Campylobacter and associated food poisoning, take a look at the Food Standards information page here.