Skip to main content

A recipe for disaster: outbreaks of campylobacteriosis associated with poultry liver pâté in England and Wales

  • C. L. LITTLE (a1), F. J. GORMLEY (a1), N. RAWAL (a1) and J. F. RICHARDSON (a1)

Despite the frequency of Campylobacter as the principal cause of bacterial gastroenteritis in the UK, outbreaks attributed to this pathogen are rare. One hundred and fourteen general foodborne outbreaks of campylobacteriosis were reported to the Health Protection Agency from 1992 to 2009 with most occurring in food service establishments (64%, 73/114). Poultry meat (38%, 43/114) was the most commonly reported vehicle of infection, of which poultry liver pâté, and undercooking, were strongly associated with this pathogen. Notably, the number of outbreaks of campylobacteriosis linked to consumption of poultry liver pâté in England and Wales increased significantly from 2007 (74% as opposed to 12%, P<0·00001) with a preponderance of these occurring in December. These outbreaks highlight the hazards associated with inappropriate culinary practices leading to undercooking of poultry liver pâté and suggest that improving catering practice is an important last line of defence in reducing exposure to Campylobacter-contaminated products.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Dr C. L. Little, Department of Gastrointestinal, Emerging and Zoonotic Infections, Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK. (Email:
Hide All
1.Health Protection Agency. Increased Campylobacter cases in 2009. Health Protection Report 2009; 3, No. 31; 7 August 2009 ( Accessed 19 March 2010.
2.Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food. Second Report on Campylobacter. London: Food Standards Agency, 2005.
3.Humphrey T, O'Brien S, Madsen M. Campylobacters as zoonotic pathogens: a food production perspective. International Journal of Food Microbiology 2007; 117: 237257.
4.Food Standards Agency. The Food Standards Agency's Strategy for 2010–2015. London: Food Standards Agency, 2009.
5.Kramer JM, et al. Campylobacter contamination of raw meat and poultry at retail sale: identification of multiple types and comparison with isolates from human infection. Journal of Food Protection 2000; 63: 16541659.
6.Little CL, et al. Prevalence, characterization and antimicrobial resistance of Campylobacter and Salmonella in raw poultrymeat in the United Kingdom, 2003 to 2005. International Journal of Environmental Health Research 2008; 18: 403414.
7.Whyte R, Hudson JA, Graham C. Campylobacter in chicken livers and their destruction by pan frying. Letters in Applied Microbiology 2006; 43: 591595.
8.Baumgartner A, et al. Campylobacter contaminations of poultry liver: consequences for food handlers and consumers. Archiv fur Lebensmittelhygiene 1995; 46; 1112.
9.Threlfall EJ, Hall ML, Rowe B. Salmonella gold-coast from outbreaks of food-poisoning in the British Isles can be differentiated by plasmid profiles. Journal of Hygiene (London) 1986; 97: 115122. Valk H, et al. Two consecutive nationwide outbreaks of Listeriosis in France, October 1999–February 2000. American Journal of Epidemiology 2001; 154: 944950.
11.Tam CC, et al. Temperature dependence of reported Campylobacter infection in England, 1989–1999. Epidemiology and Infection 2006; 134: 119125.
12.Food Standards Agency. Raw drinking milk and raw cream control requirements in the different countries of the UK, 11 May 2009 ( Accessed 22 March 2010.
13.DairyCo Datum. Liquid Milk Market, 12 March 2010 ( Accessed 22 March 2010.
14.Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Family Food 2008. London: TSO, 2010.
15.Forbes KJ, et al. Campylobacter immunity and coinfection following a large outbreak in a farming community. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 2009; 47: 111116.
16.O'Leary MC, et al. A continuous common-source outbreak of campylobacteriosis associated with changes to the preparation of chicken liver pâté. Epidemiology & Infection 2009; 137: 383388.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 25
Total number of PDF views: 62 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 392 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.