MEP calls for EU limits on campylobacter

In the wake of the release of the latest results from the FSA campylobacter survey, a Liberal Democrat MEP has called on EU limits to be set for levels of the bacteria in poultry meat.

Catherine Bearder, Lib Dem MEP for South East England, said: “Campylobacter can cause very severe cases of food poisoning and it must be taken seriously. EU limits have already helped reduce salmonella cases in Europe by half.

“A similar approach to campylobacter could significantly reduce the risk faced by consumers and force retailers and the poultry industry to clean up their act.”

The cumulative results from the first nine months of the year-long survey show that around three-quarters of fresh chickens sold in the UK are contaminated with the food poisoning bug.

A spokesperson said a study by the European Food and Safety Authority has estimated that cases of food poisoning could be cut by between 50% and 90% if EU limits on campylobacter, similar to those already in place for salmonella, were put in place.

Bearder concluded: “Thoroughly cooking chickens will get rid of the bug and good kitchen hygiene will reduce the risk it poses. But there are systematic ways in which campylobacter levels can be reduced at the processing stage.

“The pressure should be on the industry to ensure chickens are free from campylobacter before they reach customers.”

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