Food & DrinkStudy highlights French surveillance of Campylobacter

Study highlights French surveillance of Campylobacter


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Scientists have looked at Campylobacter in France over the past two decades.

Campylobacter surveillance involves Santé publique France, the National Reference Center for Campylobacter and Helicobacter, the General Directorate for Food (DGAL), the General Directorate for Concurrence, Consumption and Fraud Control (DGCCRF), the National Reference Laboratory for Campylobacter and medical and veterinary labs. 

In 2020, the CNR reported 8,884 isolates of Campylobacter and related bacteria with 7,920 identified as Campylobacter. In 2019, among 7,712 isolates of Campylobacter reported, Campylobacter jejuni was responsible for almost 85 percent followed by Campylobacter coli.

A total of 63 outbreaks due to Campylobacter were declared with 244 patients in 2020. This was similar to 2019. Consumption of poultry was the suspected source in 35 outbreaks.

Surveillance plans

While poultry present an important risk, not all infections can be linked to such products.

Monitoring of Campylobacter in poultry will continue in 2022 at the distribution stage and will make it possible to assess the impact of the process hygiene criterion. A total of 250 samples of fresh poultry meat without skin and 250 samples with skin will be studied and tested for Campylobacter.

Another surveillance plan on raw milk at production will be carried out to assess the Campylobacter risk linked to this matrix.

A study of Campylobacter contamination of bovine livers at the slaughterhouse was carried out in 2021. A look at poultry offal at the slaughterhouse and distribution stages was also done in 2021. The data for these two studies will be available later in 2022.

Past surveillance plans have included chicken, pork, beef, turkey and veal with the highest prevalence in chicken.

Genome sequencing of strains isolated from these matrices and comparison with genomic data of human strains should be a tool to support surveillance, said researchers.

In 2018, the European Commission introduced a Process Hygiene Criteria for Campylobacter on broilers requiring intervention if 1,000 Colony Forming Units per gram (CFU/g) for neck skin samples after chilling of carcasses in the processing plant is exceeded. It initially allowed 20 samples to exceed 1,000 CFU/g. This was reduced to 15 of 50 samples in 2020 and will drop to 10 in 2025.

Of the 131 French broiler slaughterhouses that transmitted results for 2020, a Campylobacter count greater than 1,000 cfu/g was reported for 28.4 percent of the 15,481 analyzes carried out.

Turmeric supplement warning

Meanwhile, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) has warned about illnesses associated with food supplements containing turmeric.

Turmeric is a plant used as a spice and can be found in a variety of supplements because of its digestive, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Italy has recorded around 20 cases of hepatitis involving supplements containing turmeric. In France, ANSES’s nutrivigilance system has received more than 100 reports of adverse effects, including 15 reports of hepatitis, potentially related to pills containing turmeric or curcumin.

ANSES has noted the growing use of formulations that increase the bioavailability and effects of curcumin in food supplements such as those that combine it with ingredients such as piperine.

“Curcumin has very low bioavailability, i.e. it is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream and is very rapidly eliminated by the body. Manufacturers have developed various formulations to increase this bioavailability and thereby enhance the effects of curcumin,” said Fanny Huret, coordinator of the expert appraisal at ANSES.

These new formulations can pose a risk of adverse effects by increasing the bioavailability of curcumin in the body. Most labels of food supplements don’t say whether they are classic or novel formulations so consumers may unknowingly be ingesting a potentially toxic product.

ANSES advises companies selling food supplements to provide detailed data on the bioavailability of products so that a specific maximum daily intake level may be set.

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