Campylobacter is an infection found in chicken's that has been around for generations.
Manor Farm and the Irish poultry industry is committed to eradicating Campylobacter and has invested considerable time and finances to achieve this goal over the last ten years. We have already implemented important changes at farm level and in our processing plants - and continue to do so today.
Campylobacter is not a new infection – it has always been in chicken. It's why past generations knew that you had to be careful with handling chicken – and that's still true today.
Campylobacter exists in the gut of many animals, including chicken. It can be a problem in chicken because the skin is left on until a later stage of processing, unlike other animals where the skin and hides are removed at the beginning of processing.
Campylobacter exists in the digestive system of most farm animals pets (dogs and cats) and insects (including house flies) – so the reservoir of these bacteria is enormous. Campylobacter levels in chicken are low in winter and higher in summer.
Campylobacter existed back at the time of the dinosaur and through evolution has colonised the digestive tracts of mammals and birds. It is different from all other pathogens (Bacteria that cause gastro infections in humans) in that it does not like oxygen and has a tail that enables it to move deep into folds and wrinkles of skin (and away from oxygen) making it very difficult to eradicate. Campylobacter is particularly resilient when it gets access to moisture – this is why Ireland and the UK have higher incidences than other countries in Europe because of the wet weather.
The challenge is enormous and overwhelming but the solution will come with the help of a multi-faceted approach across both farms and processing plants. The Irish chicken industry stands ready to implement immediately any innovation that is proven to reduce or eliminate Campylobacter.
Manor Farm has the following guide to the safe handling of chicken:
1. Do not wash chicken – this just spreads Campylobacter around the sink area.
2. After handling raw chicken –
i. Wash thoroughly your hands with an anti-bacterial spray or with soap and warm water
ii. Wash thoroughly the knife, the plate, the chopping board you used with an anti-bacterial spray or with soap and warm water
iii. The dish cloth or sponge that you used must be cleaned thoroughly with hot water and soap because this will spread it where-ever you wipe because Campylobacter is very difficult to kill in a moist environment.
3. Cook your chicken thoroughly – until the juices run clear
4. Always store raw chicken in your fridge on the bottom shelf – so that no drippage occurs on any other food.