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More and more chicken meat contaminated with germs?
It has been known for a few years that more and more chicken meat is contaminated with dangerous germs in retail stores. Consumers and politicians blame hygiene in the slaughterhouses in particular for this.
In the food retail sector, more than every second fresh meat sample of chicken is contaminated with a pathogen for diarrhea. Such pathogens are particularly dangerous for immunocompromised people and can lead to unpleasant illnesses. In 2017, as many as 51.8 percent of chicken meat samples contained the diarrhea known as Campylobacter. Given that contamination was only present in 31.6 percent of the samples in 2011, a dramatic increase.
More and more pathogens in our slaughterhouses
The pathogen was found in slaughterhouses in 2017 in 78.8 percent of the chickens. This emerged from samples by the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL). In 2011, the contamination level was still 40.9 percent, according to the Federal Government's answer to a written question from the Green Group leader, Anton Hofreiter.
Children, the elderly and pregnant women are particularly often affected
The Campylobacter pathogen causes 60,000 to 70,000 reported diseases annually, say experts from the Robert Koch Institute. This corresponds to a rate of 80 to 90 cases of illness per 100,000 inhabitants. There are some population groups that are particularly often affected by the contamination. These include the elderly, pregnant women and children.
Are there ways to protect against the pathogens?
If the chicken is fried, it can kill the dangerous germs. However, if the meat is not sufficiently roasted, even the slightest accumulation of germs can trigger serious illnesses in consumers. As the information provided by the Federal Government clearly shows, the number of contaminated meat with the diarrhea pathogen has increased significantly in recent years.
Why is there always more contaminated chicken meat?
With chicken meat contaminated with pathogens increasing, the question arises as to what the increase in contaminants is based on. The reason for this is probably the uninhibited spread of the pathogens in the slaughterhouses. With the prevailing hygiene measures, apparently too little is being done against this special pathogen.
The conditions at the German slaughterhouses are bad
As a rule, the employees work there as a chord and the payment is usually below average, which leads to poorer hygiene, Hofreiter explains in a video. The chicken meat must always be adequately chilled after processing to avoid contamination with pathogens. This is precisely where there is another risk of contamination, because gaps in the so-called cold chain from fattening to retail can cause the meat to heat up.
Antibiotic-resistant germs can be transmitted via food
The government needs to improve hygiene at our slaughterhouses. The Federal Government, in particular, should do more to ensure that the limit values for the bacterial contamination that occur are improved, Hofreiter demands. When bacterial infections are transmitted from animals to humans, this is not a problem to be underestimated. It is also possible that germs resistant to antibiotics are transmitted through food, which leads to a considerable health risk, explains consumer protection chief Klaus Müller.
Germs on meat mainly come from animal husbandry
The Federal Government does not seem to care that our meat contains more and more diarrhea and that the number of infected people continues to increase. Hofreiter criticizes that the federal government apparently prefers to put its protective hand over the agricultural and slaughter industry. The germs found mainly come from animal husbandry. During slaughter, germs and pathogens can then be transmitted to the meat of the animals. That is why it is very important that the slaughterhouses are better controlled by experts in the future and optimized hygiene measures must also be taken. However, it is just as important to oblige manufacturers and retailers to improve compliance with the cold chain, says Hofreiter. Through optimized hygiene and management measures, farms must ensure that our farm animals become healthier and that the animals are only given antibiotics in exceptional cases.
Poultry slaughterhouses have to optimize their hygiene measures
It is a serious problem that an increase in the bacterial load (especially germs like Campylobacter) of chicken meat has been observed for some years, which can lead to increased cases of diarrheal diseases, said the Minister of Agriculture of North Rhine-Westphalia Ursula Heinen-Esser from the CDU. The poultry slaughterhouses are challenged here, they absolutely have to optimize their hygiene measures. Countries and the economy are already under discussion so that necessary measures can be implemented.
Is treatment of the meat with chlorine permitted in Germany?
In the United States, there is a permissible method to kill existing germs on the meat by treatment with chlorine, explains the Federal Association of the food trade on this topic. Such treatment of the meat is not permitted in Europe. However, there are instructions for handling and eating on the packaging of poultry meat. Such meat is not suitable to be eaten raw, it must be cooked sufficiently before consumption. Proper heating of the meat can reliably kill the germs. (as)