Currently, 27% of chickens are considered to be in the highest risk category for contamination, but the new targets would reduce this to 10% by 2015. This could see a reduction of food poisoning in the UK by up to 30%, or 90,000 cases a year.
The biosecurity measures implemented by the UK poultry industry and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) include vehicle washing, hand-washing for all farm visitors and personnel, boot changing between chicken houses, and the disinfection of drinking taps and washing lines. Catching teams would come under particular scrutiny.
The FSA Scottish director, Professor Charles Milne, said that there was a strong link between the thinning of bird populations by catching teams and the infection of the remaining birds.
Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK. It is found predominantly in poultry, but also occurs in red meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated water.