Presumably, it is the responsibility of the European Food Safety Agency
(EFSA) to reduce the incidence of Campylobacter and Salmonella food poisoning in
man across Europe. Just when it approves of the use of certain antimicrobial
substances (sounds more like disinfectants to me) for treating poultry
carcasses, which tend to carry these infectious agents, a storm has arisen that
it will let in US poultry meat. Who would be a politician?
I have watched
the strenuous efforts of the EFSA to try to control particularly Salmonella
infections on a farm to fork basis
with interest. In spite of the difficulties of trying to do this at a farm level
for either herd or flock, it was considered the fairest approach and not to
really blame anybody for the problem. Danish spray system
Danes have shown that at the pig level, processing of the carcass at slaughter
can actually increase Salmonella contamination so a hot water spray system has
been introduced. They have identified the use of a critical control
In the poultry industry, carcass contamination has been a major
problem not only for Salmonella but especially for Campylobacter particularly
, which is the commonest food poisoning bacterium in the EU.
In the UK alone there are 50,000 incidents of Campylobacter cases in man
each year and over 90% are C. jejuni
. Vaccines and improved hygiene have
made a major impact on Salmonella contamination in poultry products, yet
(from poultry) usually accounts for 60-70% of human
Salmonella cases.Golden opportunity
What a golden opportunity,
to approve some products, which could reduce the carcass contamination of
chickens and thereby potentially slash the incidence of food poisoning in man,
at a single stroke.
The chemical substances involved are chlorine
dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate and peroxyacids. What
caught my eye was the use of the description 'antimicrobial substances' these
they definitely are, but usually it is a term we use for 'medicines', so when
they started talking that the use of these substances will not lead to increased
bacterial tolerance/resistance, I was surprised.
The mode of action of
these substances is pretty basic - almost like 'disinfectants' - so I would have
thought that it was unlikely.Storm
Then the storm broke from
the poultry industry (Copa - Cogeca), if we permit these substances, it will
allow American imports of poultry into Europe. Dear old 'fortress Europe' is at
it again. The use of these products in the US has kept their poultry products
out for the last 11 years. Beef is kept out because of the use of hormones, pig
meat because they use growth promoters and partitioning agents.
be a tough decision for the politicians - permit the use of these products - or
pay lip service to international trade as usual and continue to let everyone
have food poisoning.