- helped halve foodborne Campylobacter illness since 2006
- put controls in place for food processors to limit Campylobacter levels
- developed a new strategy and action plan for 2020 to 2025
- set a goal to reduce foodborne cases by a further 20% by 2025
- co-led production of international guidelines for controlling Campylobacter in poultry
- produced international guidance for verifying Campylobacter control in poultry processing
- in 2020, published a major case-control study of Campylobacter illness that indicates that 84% of foodborne Campylobacter cases are associated with the chicken meat pathway.
Our strategy is helping reduce rates of Campylobacter
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has a strategy and work plan to manage the risk of foodborne Campylobacter in New Zealand. Since 2006, our strategies have reduced foodborne Campylobacter illness in New Zealand by over 50%.
Campylobacter risk management strategy 2017–2020 [PDF, 261 KB]
Development of the strategy
Cases of Campylobacter illness from food were increasing until 2006. This was partly because people were eating more:
- poultry meat (like chicken) than in earlier years
- chilled meat than frozen meat.
This led to our first Campylobacter risk management strategy. This focused on reducing contamination of chicken meat. Since then, we've worked with industry to reduce the risk.
Graphs showing change in Campylobacter illness rates
Information helps us to control Campylobacter
To prioritise our work on Campylobacter, we need to understand the importance of different:
- sources of Campylobacter
- ways people get infected.
To do this, we've done a lot of research on the poultry, meat, and milk food chains.
Setting a regulatory limit for chilled poultry carcasses
In 2008, we introduced the Campylobacter performance target (CPT). It measured Campylobacter levels in processed chicken, to check how effectively our measures reduced levels. We still sample Campylobacter to make sure processors are producing food within safe limits. Samples are done through our National Microbiological Database (NMD).
Our current strategy and work
We're aiming to reduce foodborne Campylobacter poisoning in New Zealand by 20% by 2025. This goal is part of the Campylobacter Action Plan for 2020-2021.
Campylobacter Action Plan 2020–2021 [PDF, 539 KB]
We used a major study as the basis for setting the goal of reducing illness rates by 20%. The study found that more than 80% of foodborne illness cases are probably caused by poultry meat (like chicken). In cities and towns, it's often even higher than 80%.
Our Campylobacter Action Plan mainly focuses on the poultry food chain. It uses a risk-based, farm-to-plate chain approach. The approach identifies, selects, and implements new control measures. These measures will greatly reduce the rate of Campylobacter illness New Zealand.
The action plan first focuses on:
- improving controls (biosecurity) at farm level
- improving hygiene during primary processing of food, and re-evaluating the regulatory target for Campylobacter that determines the allowable limit of Campylobacter contamination on chilled chicken carcasses
- enhancing consumer education.
We'll also continue to investigate other potential food sources. This includes drinking milk and red meat from ruminant species (like cows and sheep).
International food safety standards are coordinated through the Codex Alimentarius Commission. New Zealand and Sweden co-led Codex work to develop the international guidelines for control of Campylobacter and Salmonella in chicken meat.
In 2014, we prepared guidance for best hygienic practice in poultry processing. This was published internationally for other countries to adapt and use.
Find out more
Who to contact
If you have questions about our Campylobacter research or our risk management strategy, email email@example.com