According to the CDC, Campylobacter causes an estimated 1.5 million illnesses each year in the United States. People usually get sick 2-5 days after eating the bacteria and symptoms can last for about a week. Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, vomiting and bloody diarrhea in some cases.
Campylobacter is a bacterium that can be found in raw and undercooked poultry and beef, stews, gravies, seafood, produce, unpasteurized milk and contaminated water. It can also be spread through cross contamination. Campylobacter is found in most warm-blooded animals, but there can be more of the bacteria in certain animals that we like to eat, such as chickens and cows. These animals can carry this bacterium even if they have no symptoms. When the animals are slaughtered, bacteria can spread from the intestines to the parts people eat.
The best way to prevent Campylobacter from causing illness is by cooking foods to their proper temperatures. Poultry, particularly chicken, should be cooked to 165°F and ground beef products cooked to 158°F. Avoid cross contaminating foods as well. Keep raw poultry and beef away from other foods that are ready-to-eat or that will be cooked to a lower temperature than what is required for chicken and beef. Make sure to only use the prep sink designated for meat prep (not the vegetable prep sink) and use separate cutting boards designated for raw poultry and beef. Use a separate sanitizer bucket in areas where meat, like raw poultry and beef, are being prepped. After contact, thoroughly clean and sanitize all surfaces and utensils. As always, wash your hands properly for at least 10-15 seconds to prevent the risk of contaminating other foods and surfaces.