Poultry Council says it is working with FSA to reduce campylobacter illnesses

Poultry Council says it is working with FSA to reduce campylobacter illnesses

British Poultry chief executive, Andrew Large and FSA chief executive, Catherine Brown have stressed the importance of consumer education in proper kitchen hygiene to reduce instances of infection from campylobacter.

This follows the FSA’s ‘refreshed strategy’ to reduce the number of people getting ill from the bacterium.

Catherine Brown

FSA’s Catherine Brown said: “What we have proposed in this paper is a shift in culture and a refocusing of effort by both government and the food industry to tackle this persistent and serious problem. While we remain committed to joint working with industry we want to encourage and see producers, processors and retailers treat campylobacter reduction not simply as a technical issue but as a core business priority – and I see some encouraging signs of that happening.

“I feel that because this is a complex and difficult issue there has tended to be an acceptance that a high level of contamination will inevitably occur and that there’s little that can be done to prevent it. The FSA doesn’t believe this is the case and this paper sets out how together we can make progress towards reducing the number of people who get ill from campylobacter.”

BPC chief executive, Andrew Large.

BPC chief executive, Andrew Large.

Andrew Large said: “We fully recognise our responsibility to deliver safe food to consumers and we’re working in partnership with the FSA, retailers and all members of the Joint Working Group on campylobacter to reduce risks associated to chicken. Since 2009, the Joint Working Group has fostered research and conducted 70 projects with promising results. The projects cover every step of the supply chain with on-farm biosecurity, processing interventions, measures at retail level and consumer education.

“Working together with the whole supply chain is key to achieving positive results in campylobacter reduction.

“It’s important to remember that proper hygiene in the kitchen and thorough cooking makes chicken entirely safe to eat.”

BPC members reported that they had a positive and productive meeting with Catherine Brown last week to discuss campylobacter reduction strategies. All parties agreed on the need to reduce campylobacter and the poultry industry fully recognised its responsibility to ensure the food it produces is safe.

BPC has been working with the FSA, DEFRA, BRC and the NFU since 2009 through the Joint Working Group (JWG) on a reduction plan

Since 2009, over 70 projects and scientific research in several areas have been conducted and new trials are taking place now. While much new information has been obtained through these projects, the BPC says more work is required to find a consistent means of reduction. Overall, knowledge of campylobacter has greatly increased and there are promising signs that certain actions across the poultry supply chain will contribute to meaningful reductions.

In the coming months, the Joint Working Group will review and improve biosecurity standards within the Red Tractor Farm Assurance Poultry Scheme as well as utilising new rapid-testing techniques for data collection. It will also focus on employee education and making sure poultry staff continue to have the effective tools and knowledge to implement campylobacter reduction measures. It will also push forward with proven slaughterhouse interventions.

BPC worked with the FSA in June 2013 for the FSA’s Food Safety Week and published poultry cooking and handling tips.

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