FSA survey reveals consumer opinion on meat decontamination

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has released a new survey, revealing mixed consumer opinion on potential decontamination treatments, in a bid to tackle the problem of food poisoning.

The FSA surveyed 2,000 people in the UK about their views on treatments for poultry and beef, as the majority of human infections relating to food poisoning is being linked to the handling and consumption of chicken, with campylobacter being the biggest cause.

The majority of the people surveyed claimed rapid chilling of meat and the application of hot water or steam would be the most accepted treatments. In these applications, the meat passes through a hot water bath or is exposed to steam in a chamber or tunnel.

Lactic acid treatment, in which the meat is sprayed with a solution of dilute lactic acid, showed a more sceptical response from the people surveyed, with only 15%. However, when consumers were given more information, acceptability increased.

FSA head of foodborne diseases strategy  Bob Martin said: ”This research is extremely helpful in informing our efforts to tackle campylobacter. We have to ensure that whatever interventions we might adopt; they must not damage consumer confidence in food.

“The findings suggest that providing clear information about the treatments, such as what they are and how they work, would have a positive impact on the public’s acceptability of new treatments such as these,” he added.

The government-industry Joint Working Group will use the survey in its bid to develop new interventions that will reduce campylobacter.

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