Frog Blog talks about the issue of that up to 90% of chickens in New Zealand are infected with campylobacter, noting:

A higher emphasis should be placed on more hygienic methods of transportation to avoid cross-contamination between live birds. Campylobacter lives in the gut of the chicken and transporting them in cages stacked on top of each other will inevitably result in the droppings from birds higher up the stack contaminating those below them.

… About 1 in 1,000 sufferers of campylobacter, a diarrhea-causing infection spread by raw poultry, develop far more serious Guillain-Barre syndrome a month or so later. Their body attacks their nerves, causing paralysis that usually requires intensive care and a ventilator to breath.

Now that is all sounding reasonable, but a press release by Owen McShane (not online) makes the following points:

“However, Ms Kedgley failed to mention that the New Zealand Food Safety Authority web page reports that ‘Irradiation is the only completely effective reported treatment for reduction in levels of Campylobacter. Irradiation of packaged fresh or frozen poultry products at 1.5 to 3.0 kg has been approved by the FDA in the USA and several other countries. Currently, prohibited in New Zealand and unlikely to be approved due to consumer resistance.’

“The reason food irradiation is prohibited in New Zealand is that the Sue Kedgley’s Green Party is steadfastly opposed to it for any food and has mounted a campaign of fear which unfortunately has affected New Zealand attitudes to this safe and effective means of sterilizing food.

“The Green Party would rather stand by their luddite opposition to all things nuclear that prevent this disease.

“I have been hospitalised by campylobacter”, said Mr McShane. “It’s not very nice – being reamed out with barbed wire is the best description that comes to mind.

“So if Ms Kedgley is serious about protecting thousands of New Zealanders, including young children, from this nasty infection, the solution is simple, safe and proven. Irradiate the chickens between farm and shop.

I’d say Owen has a pretty good point.

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