FSA sets out new campylobacter goals

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has set out new targets for tackling campylobacter, including a focus on transparency and smaller processors. 

In the papers published ahead of its board meeting on 16 March, the FSA said it had “renewed confidence that the 10% target [of whole fresh chickens heavily contaminated with campylobacter] would be met by the industry as a whole by the end of 2016”.

Last month, the FSA reported a further reduction in the number of incidents in whole fresh chickens as part of its ongoing retail survey of major retailers. It was found that campylobacter was present in 59% of samples tested between October and December 2015, down from 74% in the same months of 2014.

At the meeting next week, the board is expected to agree on a new target, shared with industry partners, of achieving a reduction in laboratory confirmed cases of human campylo-bacteriosis that is equivalent to 100,000 fewer cases of campylobacter per year. It is estimated there are currently 280,000 cases annually.

The board is set to propose engagement with its EU partners on future poultry official controls and legislation for campylobacter levels on raw poultry.

This is designed to ensure that all retailers take responsibility for transparency and informing customers about progress in tackling campylobacter, and to turn its focus to smaller independent producers and the sectors they supply poultry to.

It added that any retailer or processor that does not commit to transparency or make “meaningful interventions” across their estate would be identified by the FSA as “not making the same efforts as their peers”.

There are also plans by the board to “articulate consumer expectations” by working with UK consumers to “explore and understand their knowledge and acceptance levels of campylobacter contamination in chickens at retail sale”.

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