Campylobacter is a bacterium that can cause an illness called campylobacteriosis in humans. With about 200,000 human cases diagnosed every year, this disease is the most frequently reported food-borne illness in the Western world. However, the real number of cases is believed to be around 9 million each year in Europe alone. The cost of campylobacteriosis to public health systems and to lost productivity in the EU is estimated to be around EUR 2.4 billion a year.
It is estimated that between 50-80% of human campylobacteriosis cases can be attributed to consumption of contaminated chicken, and therefore meat from broiler chickens is considered the primary vector for transmitting the pathogen to humans.
Eating undercooked chicken, or ready-to eat foods that have been in contact with raw chicken, is the most common source of infection. Campylobacter can also be found in pigs and cattle. Usual symptoms of campylobacteriosis include fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Safe handling of raw meat and other raw food ingredients, thorough cooking and good kitchen hygiene, can prevent or reduce the risk posed by contaminated food.