Tesco makes bold campylobacter promise
Published:  16 July, 2015

Tesco has pledged to further reduce levels of campylobacter in its fresh chickens.

It hopes to reduce the percentage of chickens found with the highest level of campylobacter to just 5% by 2017.

According to the most recent set of Food Standards Agency (FSA) figures, the highest level of campylobacter was found in 12.8% of Tesco’s chickens. This was the lowest number of positive samples found across all multiple retailers. The minimum level of the bug was found in 66.5% of its chickens.

The retailer is putting the onus on suppliers to adhere to a new set of targets that will help it reach its 5% goal.

Ursula Lavery, Moy Park technical director said: “Reducing campylobacter remains a top priority for Moy Park. We have been delivering industry-leading work in this area and are totally committed to building on the successes we have already achieved in recent trials and through our supply chain interventions.”

Tesco had been commended by the FSA for its work in reducing presence of the bug. It had worked with suppliers to develop biosecurity standards, creating the first farmer incentive programme, examining the impact of stocking densities, developing best-practice guidelines for handling of produce and introducing measures to minimise the incidence of contamination on the outside of packaging.

Tim Smith, Tesco’s group quality director, said: “Providing high-quality, safe food is always our absolute priority. It has long been our commitment to reduce levels of campylobacter in our poultry and we are now seeing real progress at all stages of the supply chain, in tackling the issue through the work we have done with our suppliers.

“We want to remain at the forefront of any developments to improve the quality and safety of our chicken and believe that interventions, which are currently being trialled across the industry, will enable levels to be reduced even further.  We have therefore agreed with our suppliers that, by 2017, at least 95% of chickens supplied to Tesco will have minimal levels of campylobacter in line with the new limits that we are including in our specification.

“Whilst we acknowledge that there isn’t a single solution to address campylobacter, we are confident that we will deliver this target.”