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DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2015 15F641 Teagasc (UCD, CIT) €1,117,171

Project Title:

Clean Broilers through Enhanced Farm Biosecurity, Processing Prerequisites and HACCP Based Interventions (Clean Broilers)

Project Coordinator:

Dr Declan Bolton

Project Abstract

Campylobacter is the commonest bacterial cause of gastroenteritis in Ireland and Europe. In 2013 (the last year for which there is data available) there were an estimated 68,705 cases of infection in the Republic of Ireland (HPSC, 2015, EFSA, 2010a). Data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) suggests that approximately 43% of confirmed cases are hospitalised. Moreover, although specific data is not available for Ireland, the economic burden of campylobacteriosis is reported to be in the region of £900m for the UK and €2.4bn in the EU, per annum. The handling, preparation and consumption of broiler meat accounts for approximately 20% to 30% of human campylobacteriosis cases, while 50% to 80% may be attributed to the chicken reservoir as a whole (EFSA, 2011). A public health risk reduction of at least 50% would be achieved if all broiler batches complied with microbiological criteria setting a critical limit of <1,000 (103) CFU/g neck skin (EFSA, 2011). Thus, the European Commission recently published draft legislation amending Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 and proposing processing hygiene criteria (PHC) for the poultry sector. It is proposed that 15 birds will be randomly selected per flock, 10g of neck flap shall be taken and pooled to give 5 x 25g final samples. Within a moving window of 50 samples, no more than 5 may exceed the limit of 103 cfu/g. It is planned that this legislation be in place by September 2016. The EC are currently discussing intervention options to assist processors in achieving this target. To date EFSA have considered the use of trisodium phosphate, acidified sodium chlorite, chlorine dioxide or peroxyacid solutions. All are considered to be ‘safe’ for use and effective in achieving the Campylobacter reductions required (EFSA, 2011). The specific objective of this project is to ensure that the maximum number of birds at retail are as clean as possible thus facilitating compliance with the proposed EC Campylobacter PHC. This will be achieved by reducing neck skin Campylobacter counts on all first thin broiler batches to <103 CFU/g through the development, validation and transfer of improved biosecurity on broiler farms and more effective prerequisites (GHP) and HACCP interventions in the processing plant. The commercial cost (cost-benefit analysis) of changes in practices (eg. feeding regimes & removing thinning) and interventions (eg. freezing) to treat noncompliant birds (carcass Campylobacter counts in excess of 103 cfu/g) will also be assessed. In addition to protecting public health, our research will assist our poultry industry stakeholders in achieving compliance with the new EC Campylobacter process hygiene criterion, including preventative measures and corrective actions for FBOs if the microbiological criteria are not achieved. The project will also deliver a ‘demonstration farm’ to assist in the training of broiler farmers and a virtual Campylobacter data centre (VCDC) to manage (collate, store and analyse) the Campylobacter broiler testing data generated by the private laboratories for the 3 major poultry processors in the Republic of Ireland. The information generated, in combination with the baseline data obtained in this project, will be important in better understanding and monitoring/assessing improvement in the broiler Campylobacter issue. Finally, the research approach and outputs are specifically designed to complement and integrate into the antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) programme (undertaken at DAFM Backweston) required under new legislation in 2016 and beyond.

Final Report:

Not available yet.