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Wilkinson: Campy Strategy Showing Signs Of Success

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Kate Wilkinson
Kate Wilkinson

The number of New Zealanders getting sick from campylobacter has taken a dive following a concerted effort to combat the bug in chicken meat, Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson said today.

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority adopted a risk management plan in 2006 to work with the poultry industry to tackle campylobacter at various points in the food chain.

"The data shows that reported cases totalled about 6,850 in 2007 and dropped to about 3,500 in 2008, with this year's figures tracking similar lines.

"Campylobacter cases can fluctuate quite easily so there is no certainty, but the trend we are seeing suggests the number of human cases has effectively halved in just three years - three years earlier than the goal of 2012.

"That's a lot fewer New Zealanders getting sick, which is a great result."

Campylobacteriosis accounts for about 90 percent of the $86 million lost to the country each year in direct health costs and lost productivity through foodborne illness.

Numbers of people suffering from the illness had been on the rise since 1996, with the highest total attributed to food (8650) recorded in 2006.

It is estimated that around eight times more people are affected than those officially reported, because many who get sick don't go to the doctor or have laboratory tests to identity the bacteria making them ill.

Work is continuing with the poultry industry to develop both mandatory and non-regulatory interventions from the farm through to final processing to tackle the campylobacter pathogen.

"There is still plenty more work to do, but the signs are positive that this partnership approach is having a real impact and I look forward to that continuing."

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