The safety of raw milk, fish, chicken, and produce were some of the products checked in recent controls in Austria.

Results of the inspection campaigns were published by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES).

One control was done to get an up-to-date overview of the prevalence of Campylobacter in chicken meat. All but one of the 97 samples came from Austria. 

The proportion of Campylobacter positives was 84.5 percent. A quantitative study on 95 samples found two levels above 1,000 colony-forming units per gram (CFU/g) at 1,200 CFU/g and 8,000 CFU/g.

In 2020, the prevalence of raw commercial chicken meat was 54 percent, and 76.5 percent in 2022. The rate of positive self-control samples in 2022 was 52.1 percent, with 30.7 percent over 1,000 CFU/g.

Tuna and raw milk checks
Another assessment looked at biogenic amines and the hygiene of tuna from or in already opened cans or open containers in the catering industry. The campaign was carried out due to a high complaint rate of 17 percent when such products were tested in 2020. 

From 101 samples, two were judged unfit for human consumption or the intended use. One did not comply with the regulations as storage temperatures were too high. No samples were rejected due to high histamine levels.

The non-conformance rate increased to 24.8 percent, with the same reasons, including microbial contamination and lack of hygiene, being mentioned in 2020.

Officials also reviewed the effectiveness of measures taken on farms that had problems as part of past campaigns on the microbial quality of raw milk from vending machines.

Fifteen of 44 samples did not comply with the raw milk regulations because the maximum level for mesophilic aerobic germs was exceeded. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) was detected in one sample. This came from a vending machine with a notice informing people that raw milk should be boiled before consumption.

The non-compliance rates from four campaigns in different years ranged from 29.7 to 38.3 percent.

Produce and RTE food controls
Another action included microbiological testing of mixed salads. Sixty samples from Austria were tested, with 13 judged unfit for consumption. Listeria monocytogenes was detected once at levels below 10 CFU/g, so a follow-up sample was requested. Salmonella was also found once.

Frozen fruits, vegetables, and herbs were also tested for pathogens, hygiene indicators, and viruses.

Only one of 95 samples was unsuitable for human consumption due to the exceeded warning value for E. coli. Viruses, such as norovirus and Hepatitis A, were not detected.

A different control looked at ready-to-eat foods from kindergartens, crèches, after-school care centers, and schools. Testing assessed the microbiological status of starchy foods that had already been prepared in terms of spoilage and hygiene indicator germs and pathogens.

From 195 samples, one Spinach spaetzle dish had a very high content of Enterobacteriaceae. This indicates contamination after cooking and issues with operational and personal hygiene. A vanilla cream sample had high presumptive Bacillus cereus levels, suggesting improper storage. Four other samples had high counts of mesophilic aerobic germs and Enterobacteriaceae.

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