Reducing campylobacter in poultry

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a paper today, which outlines new measures to tackle the problem of campylobacter in poultry.

The FSA will aim to reduce the number of birds carrying the highest levels of contamination from 27% to 10% by 2015, as it is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK, costing the economy around £900m.

FSA chief executive Catherine Brown explained that the high level of contamination that has occurred should not be accepted and that the government and food industry are urged to help tackle the problem. The FSA has also asked the industry to further its work on initiatives, such as packaging, to reduce cross-contamination in consumer and foodservice kitchens.

A spokesperson from the British Poultry Council (BPC) said after a meeting with the FSA last week: “All parties agree on the need to reduce campylobacter and the poultry industry fully recognises its responsibility to ensure the food it produces is safe. All involved renewed their commitment to work in partnership through the Joint Working Group and to keep driving industry-wide efforts.”

Meanwhile, the FSA has recently seen positive results from the trial of new cryogenic technology, which aims to reduce campylobacter in poultry, found on the surface of almost all raw chicken.

Developed by Bernard Matthews in collaboration with the FSA and Campden BRI, the new technology involves rapid chilling of the surface of the poultry using a cryogenic vapour, and the results from initial batch trials have been positive.

Bernard Matthews technical director Jeremy Hall said: “This is a key milestone in the development of a solution to an enormous and serious health concern in the broiler industry. These latest results are good news for the UK consumer and endorse the considerable efforts we are putting in to help reduce campylobacter at the poultry processing stage.”