Infectious Diseases 2018

Infectious Diseases 2018

Hygiene for chicken eggs – protection from Campylobacter

BfR Opinion 1 June, 2018

Campylobacter is a species of spiral bacteria which are widespread in the gut of warm-blooded animals, especially poultry. Whereas the germ usually has no effect on livestock, it can lead to an infectious bowel inflammation in humans. The result is stomach ache, diarrhoea and fever and in exceptional circumstances, autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Roughly 70,000 cases of intestinal inflammation through Campylobacter are reported every year. This makes it the most commonly registered food-related bacterial disease in Germany, with a slightly increasing tendency expected. About 50 to 80% of all cases can be attributed to chickens as the reservoir of Campylobacter. Fresh poultry meat is the most frequent source of human Campylobacter infections, but chicken eggs can also transmit Campylobacter to humans, especially if they are visibly contaminated with chicken excrement. The risk of infection through eggs can be minimised by taking the following measures, however. Chicken excrement can adhere to the shell of chicken eggs during production and packaging. The probability of contamination should be reduced by taking suitable measures, such as ensuring good stable hygiene, advises the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in its opinion on the subject “Campylobacter on chicken eggs”.
Only clean chicken eggs should be used for the production of raw egg dishes. As a general rule, eggs and egg dishes should only be eaten after being properly heated to protect especially sensitive groups against food infections such as persons whose body defences are not fully developed (small children) or weakened due to advanced age or previous illness.