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Just cook it doesn’t cut it: Campy in veal liver

barfblog by Doug Powell, May 9, 2018

A matched case–control study in Quebec, Canada, evaluated consumption of veal liver as a risk factor for campylobacteriosis. Campylobacter was identified in 28 of 97 veal livers collected concurrently from slaughterhouses and retailers. Veal liver was associated with human Campylobacter infection, particularly when consumed undercooked.

Recent investigations conducted in Quebec, Canada, after an increased number of sporadic campylobacteriosis illnesses suggested that consumption of veal liver may be a risk factor for campylobacteriosis. Many of the persons infected reported eating veal liver, and many of those had eaten it pink or undercooked. The association between campylobacteriosis and the consumption of meat products, including chicken liver and offal from different animal species, has been previously described (1–5). We designed an epidemiologic study to examine the relationship between veal liver consumption and campylobacteriosis.

We conducted a matched case–control study to examine a potential association between veal liver consumption and campylobacteriosis, using salmonellosis cases as controls. The study began in September 2016 and continued for 9 months. Salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis cases are reportable in Quebec; we selected all subjects from the provincial reportable disease registry. We used a systematic sampling method to select every fifth reported campylobacteriosis case-patient >45 years of age. We paired each campylobacteriosis case-patient with 1 salmonellosis case-patient by age group (45–64 and >65 y) and sex; both infections were confirmed by fecal culture. We matched case-patients if the salmonellosis sample was collected within a window of 7 days before to 60 days after the campylobacteriosis sample was collected. Inclusion criteria for cases and controls were infection that was sporadic and domestically acquired. Exclusion criteria were co-infection with another pathogen, being part of a recognized outbreak, or contact with a gastroenteritis case-patient 45 years of age in Quebec. We found that adequate cooking of veal liver mitigates the risk of infection. We detected Campylobacter in almost one third of veal livers we sampled from slaughterhouses and retail stores, which supports our finding that veal liver consumption is a risk factor for campylobacteriosis. In light of these results, we recommend the dissemination of safe food handling practices for veal liver and other offal for retailers, food establishments, slaughterhouses, and the general public.

Dr. Gaulin is a physician epidemiologist who works in public health at the Protection Branch of the Ministry of Health in Quebec, Canada. She works in infectious diseases on enteric and nonenteric disease surveillance and also coordinates provincial outbreak investigations.

Veal Liver as Food Vehicle for Human Campylobacter Infections

Gaulin C, Ramsay D, Réjean Dion R, Simard M, Gariépy C, Levac É, et al. Veal liver as food vehicle for human Campylobacter infections. Emerg Infect Dis. 2018 Jun [date cited]. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2406.171900

DOI: 10.3201/eid2406.171900

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/24/6/17-1900_article#suggestedcitation