Rise in Campylobacter and Vibrio Infections Troubling, Says CSPI

Statement of CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal

April 18, 2013

The increased number of infections from Campylobacter and Vibrio is troubling. Although these pathogens cause fewer outbreaks, they are causing significant and sometimes serious illnesses and industry clearly needs to adopt better controls. Targeted controls for chicken and shellfish are needed to reverse the increase in illnesses linked to Campylobacter and Vibrio.

Other countries have successfully reduced Campylobacter by testing flocks for the hazard and requiring contaminated chicken to be frozen. Clearly better controls are needed in the U.S. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and industry are pushing for changes to poultry slaughter that would increase line speeds and decrease microbial testing. Rising rates of Campylobacter and a lack of progress on Salmonella make it clear that now is not the time to be easing regulations on chicken and turkey plants.

Year after year, rates of Vibrio exceed public health goals. This pathogen is linked to shellfish, and is frequently deadly for immune-compromised consumers. The Food and Drug Administration should take immediate action to require better controls for shellfish harvesters and shippers.

In 2012, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to set a performance standard for Vibrio vulnificus under new authority granted the agency under the Food Safety Modernization Act. This new report from CDC provides additional support and urgency for FDA to take action.


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