How Can Campylobacter Food Poisoning Be Prevented?
The spread of Campylobacter can be prevented through proper sanitation and cooking procedures.
Campylobacter jejuni grows poorly on properly refrigerated foods but does survive refrigeration and will grow if contaminated foods are left out at room temperature.
The bacterium is sensitive to heat and other common disinfection procedures; pasteurization of milk, adequate cooking of meat and poultry, and chlorination or ozonation of water will destroy this organism. Infection control measures at all stages of food processing may help to decrease the incidence of Campylobacter infections, but the single most important and reliable step is to adequately cook all poultry products. The most reliable method to ensure this is to use a digital food thermometer. Cook chicken, turkey, duck or goose to a temperature of 165°F or higher, as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its Model Food Code, as well as the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
There are a large number of control measures that are available to consumers and food service personnel to prevent the transmission of Campylobacter:
- Utilize plastic bags to wrap meat and poultry during all phases of storage to prevent contamination of other groceries. Choose the coolest part of the vehicle when transporting meat and poultry home from the market.
- Defrost meat and poultry in the refrigerator. Place the item on a low shelf, on a wide pan, lined with paper towel; ensure that drippings do not land on foods below. If there is not enough time to defrost in the refrigerator, then use the microwave.
- DO NOT WASH RAW CHICKEN BEFORE COOKING. Washing chicken won’t remove many bacteria, but it can spread germs to hands, work surfaces, clothing, and nearby utensils or food — a process called cross-contamination.
- Cook stuffing separately from the bird to ensure thorough cooking.
- Rapidly cool leftovers and avoid leaving food out at room temperature (either during preparation or after cooking) for more than two hours.
- Avoid raw milk and products made from raw milk. Purchase only pasteurized eggs and egg products, and cook thoroughly at home.
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, particularly if they are eaten raw.
- Wash hands thoroughly using soap and water, concentrate on fingertips and nail creases, and dry completely with a disposable paper towel at the following times: after contact with pets, especially puppies, or farm animals; before and after preparing food, especially poultry; after changing diapers or having contact with an individual with an intestinal infection. Children should wash hands upon arrival home from school or daycare.