Food Safety News reports:

Supermarkets in the United Kingdom have reported mixed Campylobacter in chicken results for the first two quarters of 2023.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) maximum target level is up to 7 percent of birds with more than 1,000 colony-forming units per gram (CFU/g) of Campylobacter.

Data from the retailers covers the first half of 2023 on high findings of Campylobacter in fresh, shop-bought, UK-produced chickens.

Results at Morrisons, Asda, and Sainsbury’s went up while Marks and Spencer recorded lower levels. The percentage of positives varied by quarter at Waitrose and Lidl and stayed the same for Co-op.  

Campylobacter is the most common cause of bacterial food poisoning in the UK, and the dose needed to make people sick can be as low as a few hundred cells.

Tesco has stopped publishing data as it has changed how it monitors the pathogen in chicken, so findings are not comparable with other retailers. Aldi has not updated its related webpage or provided the figures when asked to do so by Food Safety News.

Findings by retailer
Morrisons had 2.3 percent of 86 chickens at the top contaminated level from April to June and 2.4 percent from 84 samples in January to March 2023 compared to 2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Lidl recorded almost 4 percent of birds in the highest category from April to June and 2 percent from January to March 2023. The figure was about 3 percent at the end of 2022.

Marks and Spencer had no samples at the top threshold from April to June. The retailer also had none above 1,000 CFU/g in January and 1 percent each in February and March 2023 from 376 samples. This compares to 1 percent in the maximum category in October, November, and December from the same number of chickens sampled.

Asda reported that 3.6 percent of samples were above 1,000 CFU/g in the first quarter of 2023 and 3.5 percent in the second quarter. This compares to no chickens at this level in the final quarter of 2022.

Sainsbury’s Campylobacter results for Q1 2023 showed 3 percent of chickens had levels above 1,000 CFU/g, compared to 1 percent in Q2 2023 and 1 percent in Q4 2022.

Co-op continued its streak of results that showed no chickens tested were contaminated at levels greater than 1,000 CFU/g. The last time any samples had levels this high was Q3 2021.

Waitrose and Partners had 2 percent testing positive for Campylobacter at levels above 1,000 CFU/g from April to June, compared to 4 percent from January to March 2023 and 2 percent in the final quarter of 2022.

“The key to our good results continues to be the incredibly hard work of our farmers and suppliers combined with our rigorous data gathering and analysis, surveying chicken both at the factory and on supermarket shelves,” said a Waitrose and Partners spokesperson.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture warns that consumers should immediately discard raw goat milk sold from Dove Song Dairy due to possible contamination with Campylobacter. Three persons who consumed this product and became ill with campylobacteriosis were reported by the Department of Health. Raw milk samples tested by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture are presumptively positive for Campylobacter.  

Dove Song Dairy raw goat milk was sold in plastic containers of various sizes (gallon, ½ gallon, quart, and pint) at the following locations:

Berks County:

Dove Song Dairy, 108 Seigfried Rd, Bernville

Multiple locations of Kimberton Whole Foods

Local Leaf Market, 3071 W Philadelphia Ave, Oley

Chester County:

Multiple locations of Kimberton Whole Foods

Lancaster County:

Shady Maple Farm Market, 1324 E Main St, East Earl

Nickle Mine Health Foods, 2123 Mine Rd, Paradise

Lehigh County:

Healthy Alternatives Food, 7150 Hamilton Blvd, Trexlertown 

Schuylkill County:

Healthy Habits Natural Market, 1120 Center Turnpike, Orwigsburg  

All sell-by dates of raw goat milk from Dove Song Dairy should be discarded.  

Anyone who consumed the raw goat milk should consult their physician if they become ill.

Raw goat milk produced and packaged by Valley Milk Simply Bottled of Stanislaus County is the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones.  The quarantine order came following the confirmed detection of the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni in the farm’s packaged raw whole goat milk sampled and tested by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The order applies to “Valley Milk Simply Bottled Raw Goat Milk” and “DESI MILK Raw Goat Milk” distributed in half-gallon (64 oz) plastic jugs with a code date marked on the container of OCT 21 2022 through OCT 31 2022.

Consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any product remaining in their refrigerators, and retailers are to pull the product immediately from their shelves. The current order does not include the farm’s raw cow milk.

CDFA found the campylobacter bacteria in a routine sample collected at the Valley Milk Simply Bottled production and packaging facility.  No illnesses have been reported.

Symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever.  Most people with camplylobacteriosis recover completely.  Illness usually occurs 2 to 5 days after exposure to campylobacter and lasts about a week.  The illness is usually mild and some people with campylobacteriosis have no symptoms at all.  However, in some persons with compromised immune systems, it can cause a serious, life-threatening infection.  A small percentage of people may have joint pain and swelling after infection.  In addition, a rare disease called Guillian-Barre syndrome that causes weakness and paralysis can occur several weeks after the initial illness.

The McHenry County Department of Health is encouraging awareness and prevention after identifying an increase in campylobacteriosis cases in McHenry County.

The MCDH has identified 8 cases of campylobacteriosis between Aug. 17 and Aug. 30, which is four times more cases compared to the previous two weeks and 3.33 times more cases in August compared to July. No common source of infection has been identified at this time.

Campylobacter bacteria is the most common cause of bacterial diarrhea in the United States. People can become ill with campylobacteriosis by eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water or having contact with infected animals.

Most people who become ill from the infection get diarrhea, which may be bloody, and may experience cramping, abdominal pain and fever within two to five days after exposure to the bacteria. Nausea and vomiting may also occur. The illness typically lasts about one week. Those who believe they have symptoms should contact their healthcare provider as soon as possible.

The majority of people with campylobacteriosis will recover on their own and should drink extra fluids to prevent dehydration. Antibiotics are occasionally used to treat severe cases or people who are at high risk for severe disease.

The best way to prevent a campylobacteriosis infection is to take precautions:

  • Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk or untreated water from lakes, rivers or ponds
  • Practice good hand hygiene, especially when handling puppies or kittens with diarrhea
  • Wash hands before, during and after preparing food
  • Cook all raw meats to proper temperature
  • Use soap and hot water to wash cutting boards, counters or utensils used to prepare raw poultry, seafood or meat to prevent cross contamination with other foods
  • Avoid handling food, caring for others, patient care or daycare work if symptomatic

The source of a bacterial outbreak in Sanders County that caused several people to become ill has been confirmed.

State and county officials recently notified the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) that the Kennedy Creek water box has been associated with a Campylobacter outbreak.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has labeled this untreated water as a health concern and advised MDT to close off public access to the water.

After Sanders County Public Health officials confirmed several cases of infection from Campylobacter, the water from the untreated creek was tested and the presence of this bacteria was confirmed, according to MDT.

Over 20 people have tested positive for the bacterial infection and have reported diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and fever after drinking water from the location.

Sanders County Public Health officials posted a public notice on May 13, 2022, advising against the consumption of water from the Kennedy Creek water box. County officials stated the water is not considered to be a safe source of drinking water. MDT also notes a sign is posted at the site stating that the water is not safe for human consumption.

Sanders County is assisting the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Epidemiological Program with an outbreak of Campylobacter cases within Sanders County.

Data indicates the outbreak may be attributed to consumption of water from the Kennedy Creek watering point south of Paradise.

Multiple individuals have tested positive for Campylobacter infection after consuming water from this source.

Cases have reported diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and fever after drinking water from this source.

The public is reminded that the Kennedy Creek watering point is not a spring. The source of this water is surface water and flows both above and below ground. It is open to contamination from humans, animals, insects, and other forms of contamination typical of surface water.

Sanders County advises against consuming water from the Kennedy Creek watering point on Highway 200 south of Paradise. This watering point is not considered to be a safe source of drinking water.

From January 9, 2019, through March 1, 2021, a total of 56 people infected with the outbreak strain of Campylobacter jejuni were reported from 17 states.9 people were hospitalized; no deaths were reported.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence showed that contact with puppies, especially those at pet stores, was the likely source of this outbreak.38 (93%) of 41 ill people reported contact with a puppy before getting sick.

21 (55%) of these 38 people reported contact with a puppy from a pet store.

13 (62%) of these 21 people had a link to Petland, a national pet store chain.

5 (38%) of these 13 people were Petland employees.

The outbreak strain was identified in samples collected from two puppies in the homes of ill people, one in in Iowa and one in Minnesota. Both puppies were purchased from pet stores.

Laboratory evidence showed that bacteria from ill people were closely related genetically to bacteria from ill people in the 2016–2018 outbreak of multidrug-resistant Campylobacter infections linked to pet store puppies.

Campylobacter is a genus of bacteria that is among the most common causes of bacterial diarrheal illness in humans worldwide. It is a gram-negative rod-shaped bacterium that grows best in a high temperature (42°C, or 107°F) and low oxygen environment.

Campylobacter infection is commonly associated with the consumption of raw (unpasteurized) milk, undercooked poultry, and contaminated water; however, most Campylobacter cases are sporadic and are never traced back to a specific food or beverage. Nonetheless, very large outbreaks (greater than 1,000 illnesses) have been documented, most often from consumption of contaminated milk or unchlorinated water supplies. Not all Campylobacter infections cause obvious illness. Symptomatic infection occurs almost exclusively in infants and young children, who can be infected repeatedly. The amount of time from infection to symptom onset—typically referred to as the incubation period—can vary to a significant degree.  It is relatively short, ranging from 1 to 7 days, with an average of 3 days. 

Although uncommon, Campylobacter infection can lead to disorders of the nervous system such as Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), as well as reactive arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and other functional gastrointestinal disorders (i.e., indigestion, constipation, and acid reflux). 

Five lab-positive campylobacteriosis cases have been identified in individuals who consumed Dungeness Valley Creamery raw milk. The raw milk was purchased in Clallam, Skagit, Kitsap, and Clark Counties.

Dungeness Valley Creamery has issued a voluntary recall of all raw milk product with a ‘Best By’ date of April 13, 2021, or earlier. These products may be contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria, which can cause serious illness. The recalled product is bottled in gallon, half-gallon, quart and pint containers. It was sold to customers in western Washington in the on-farm store, outside retail stores and drop-off locations. Health officials urge consumers not to drink any Dungeness Valley Creamery raw milk product with a ‘Best By’ date of April 13, 2021, or earlier, and to discard any leftover product, or return it to the place of purchase.

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is working with Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and local health investigators during this ongoing investigation.

“Unpasteurized raw milk can carry harmful bacteria and germs. Foodborne illnesses can be caused by many different foods; however, raw milk is one of the riskiest,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, State Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases.

Symptoms of Campylobacter infection include fever, diarrhea (often bloody), nausea, vomiting, malaise and abdominal pain. Most people with Campylobacterinfection recover on their own, but some need antibiotic treatment. In severe cases, complications may include reactive arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Infants, young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system are at greatest risk for severe illness.