FSA reveals latest campylobacter results

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the latest results from its year-long survey into campylobacter, showing 73% of retailed raw chicken tested positive for the bug.

The results:

• 19% of chickens tested positive for campylobacter within the highest band of contamination.*

• 73% of chickens tested positive for the presence of campylobacter.
• 7% of packaging tested positive for the presence of campylobacter. Only three out of more than 3,000 samples of packaging tested positive at the highest band of contamination.

*More than 1,000 colony forming units per gram (>1,000 cfu/g). These units indicate the degree of contamination on each sample.

The FSA noted the work that some retailers had put in to reducing levels of the bug in their chicken products, and today Marks & Spencer reported that its strategy, which includes double bagging chicken, was already seeing results.

Steve Wearne, FSA director of policy, said: “We now know it is possible to make positive inroads in the reduction of campylobacter. Figures released today by M&S show that their intervention plan has resulted in fewer contaminated chickens on sale in their stores. If one retailer can achieve this campylobacter reduction through systematic interventions, then others can, and should.”

Commenting on the results, Andrew Large, chief executive of the British Poultry Council (BPC), said: “We welcome the news that retailers and their suppliers are making significant progress, and hope that proven technology will be made commercially available across the sector. The BPC remains committed to collaborative working between industry, retailers, and regulators, as we believe this is where long-term consistency will emerge. This joint effort is a complement to the creativity and investment we are seeing.

“We are pleased to see the FSA’s commitment to solving this problem remains as strong as our own, and we look forward to being able to demonstrate good progress as we move through 2015.”

Meat Trades Journal will host a webinar, ‘Cracking Down on Campy - What should industry be doing?, in conjunction with the FSA. You can register to attend here.

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