Campylobacter is extremely common in Australian chicken, making it even more essential for food handlers to practise good food safety.
A recent study published in the Journal of Food Protection found that retail chicken meat in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria is frequently contaminated by Campylobacter, a bacteria that can cause infection and gastroenteritis (or ‘gastro’) — with some products exceeding safety targets set by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. This strain is one of the most common foodborne diseases, with symptoms including diarrhoea, stomach cramps, fever, nausea and vomiting. Australia has one of the highest rates of infection in industrialised countries, with over 30,000 cases reported in 2018.
The best way to prevent infection, according to the study’s authors, is to “practise good food safety, including adequately cooking meat products and avoiding cross-contamination of raw meat with fresh ready-to-eat foods.” We’ve assembled a list below of five simple ways you can implement this in your kitchen and minimise risk in your food handling.
– All poultry products need to be cooked thoroughly. There should be no pink meat, and the juices should run clear. If using a thermometer, the temperature should be at least 75°C.
– If microwaving food, meat should be thoroughly reheated to 75°C or above to kill any bacteria that may have grown in the fridge.
– Make sure you and everyone in your kitchen wash their hands regularly with warm water and soap—and that they are dried thoroughly. At the very least, this should be before starting food preparation and after handling raw meat.
– Practise good hygiene in your kitchen to limit opportunities for cross-contamination. Store uncooked poultry and meat separately from foods that will be eaten raw, use separate cutting boards, and scrub all work surfaces and utensils with detergent and hot water after use. You can find a more detailed guide on good kitchen hygiene here
If you do develop a Campylobacter infection, it is important to limit your exposure to avoid spreading it to others. The Australian Government recommends waiting for 24 hours after symptoms pass before returning to work, though food handlers should consider extending this to 48 hours.