This bacterium is the most common pathogen on eggs and chicken

Federal institute provides information about the bacterium and gives hygiene tips

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has recently determined the level of knowledge about the occurrence of Campylobacter bacteria on chicken eggs and gives tips on how to protect yourself. Eggs are one of the most popular foods. Every year, people in Germany consume almost 20 billion of them. This results in a consumption of 235 eggs per person per year. Accordingly, scandals, such as the discovery of the insecticide fipronil and other health-related issues surrounding the egg, affect a large number of people. The most common bacterial pathogen in chicken eggs is the largely unknown bacterium Campylobacter.

As the BfR reports in the current risk assessment, the common Campylobacter bacterium can cause abdominal pain, fever and sometimes bloody diarrhea. Medically one speaks of enteritis (inflammation of the intestine). Around 70,000 cases of Campylobacter enteritis are reported annually to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The BfR suspects that there will be a significant number of unreported cases. Most of the bacteria come from the chicken intestine, which the bacteria cannot harm.

Transmission to humans

In many cases, these bacteria enter the human body through insufficiently cooked chicken. Infection from chicken eggs is also possible, but less likely than from meat consumption. You can get infected, in particular, via the bacterial droppings that stick to some eggs.

About Campylobacter

The Campylobacter genus belongs to the spiral bacteria. They live mainly in the intestines of warm-blooded animals, preferably in poultry casings. The germ does not cause disease in most animals. In humans, however, the pathogen can lead to infectious intestinal infections. Campylobacter enteritis is reportable under the Infection Protection Act. Typical symptoms are:

  • Stomach pain,
  • Diarrhea (sometimes bloody diarrhea),
  • Fever,
  • Nausea and vomiting,
  • in extreme cases also autoimmune diseases such as rheumatic arthritis.

How can the risk of infection from chicken eggs be minimized?

The BfD advises all consumers after contact with raw chicken eggs to always thoroughly clean the kitchen utensils with hot water and washing-up liquid, as well as to wash hands thoroughly after touching the eggs. For raw ice cream, only cleaned chicken eggs should be used and when cracked open, care should be taken to ensure that the content of the ice cream does not come into contact with the shell. If you want to blow out chicken eggs, you should not make direct mouth contact with the eggshell.

Federal institute criticizes the manufacturers

The BfR also urges manufacturers and transport companies to improve hygiene. "In the production and packaging of chicken eggs, faecal contamination of the eggshells should be avoided at all costs," says the risk assessment. In addition, raw chicken eggs should always be stored and processed separately from other foods.

Good kitchen hygiene reduces the risk

"With good kitchen hygiene, the risk of infection from chicken eggs can be reduced even further," summarizes Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, President of the BfR, in a press release. Kitchen utensils and hands should be cleaned thoroughly after contact with raw eggs. Those who heat food prepared with eggs sufficiently will reliably kill Campylobacter and other pathogens, the expert says.

The correct handling of chicken meat

Campylobacter bacteria find optimal growth conditions between 30 and 42 degrees Celsius. Frozen meat prevents the growth process, but does not kill the bacteria. Heat, on the other hand, makes the bacteria cook. Well-cooked or fully cooked chicken meat, in which the entire meat (including inside) reaches a temperature above 70 degrees Celsius for at least two minutes, kills both Campylobacter and other pathogens and is considered harmless. (vb)

Author and source information

Video: Use of biochemical testing for the identification of pathogenic bacteria (January 2022).