Will Polish poultry enter Great Britain? The reason is a dangerous bacteria

Luc Williams

In a letter sent in December to the European Commission and Poland's Chief Veterinary Inspectorate, FSA chief executive Emily Miles and UK chief veterinarian Christine Middlemiss said they were concerned about the failure to eradicate the disease in contaminated meat and eggs exported to the UK.

Significant risk to public health

“Due to the significant risk to public health, we are considering available options to protect British consumers,” they wrote, adding that they would consider potential “protective measures in relation to the affected products.”

The letter, accessed by TBIJ and ITV News, highlights the increase in the number of salmonella cases in Polish poultry since the FSA last raised the issue. It listed six major outbreaks that have caused at least 2,680 human infections and several deaths in recent years.

As TBIJ notes, the FSA's intervention came less than a year after a TBIJ and ITV News investigation linked a major Polish chicken supplier to the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections. It also follows recent salmonella warnings in the UK and Europe.

FSA advises 'exercise caution'

In December, the FSA advised consumers to “exercise caution” when handling and preparing chilled and frozen chicken and turkey, amid an authority investigation into multiple strains of salmonella linked to Polish poultry products imported into the UK.

TBIJ writes that previously the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a warning linking over 330 cases of salmonella in humans with infected poultry in 2023. Most of the contaminated food samples came from Poland. Those affected included young children and infants, and affected people were identified in Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK and Austria – where one person died. Polish poultry products have been linked to over 100 EU-wide food safety alerts since the original TBIJ investigation was published in June 2023, most of which concerned salmonella.

The Chief Veterinary Inspectorate stated that there is no clear evidence that products originating in Poland were the source of the three salmonella outbreaks reported by the EU warning system in 2023. It said it complies with EU rules on salmonella and antimicrobial resistance and cooperates with UK authorities on food poisoning investigations.

The use of veterinary antibiotics in Poland continues to increase

The FSA welcomed moves to increase traceability and export requirements introduced in January and said tighter controls would be introduced in April. It was also confirmed that an audit of poultry plants in Poland exporting to the UK will take place next month.

TBIJ writes that documents it has seen show that some strains of salmonella responsible for recent illnesses in the UK and Europe were resistant to antibiotics classified as “critically important” to human health by the World Health Organization (WHO). Such superbugs can make it difficult to treat serious cases of food poisoning.

Notes that the use of veterinary antibiotics in Poland continues to grow, despite ongoing concerns about the impact of the overuse of such drugs on the health of farm animals. Sales of some classes of critically important antibiotics increased in Poland in 2022, in contrast to other EU countries that restricted their use on farms.

From London Bartłomiej Niedziński


Luc's expertise lies in assisting students from a myriad of disciplines to refine and enhance their thesis work with clarity and impact. His methodical approach and the knack for simplifying complex information make him an invaluable ally for any thesis writer.