AIMS rubbishes FSA campylobacter claims

The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) has continued to apply pressure to the Food Standards Agency, saying it has continued to “undermine the meat processing sector”. 

AIMS highlighted a recently published article about campylobacter as an example of this.

According to the FSA, it is believed that campylobacter causes up to 280,000 cases of food poisoning a year, leading to 100 deaths and costing the UK economy roughly £900 million.

However, AIMS acknowledged that the source of this extract was taken from the paper: ‘Costed extension to the Second Study of Infectious Intestinal Disease in the Community: Identifying the proportion of foodborne disease in the UK and attributing foodborne disease by food commodity’, which was funded by the FSA.

The paper stated: “We could not estimate deaths attributable to foodborne illness, due to the lack of reliable data sources on pathogen-specific mortality rates.”
AIMS head of policy Norman Bagley said: “Selectively quoting from its own commissioned report on its own website has once again undermined the excellent work and progress the industry has made on combating campylobacter.

“Stating that campylobacter causes 100 deaths a year is just not based on science and leads to continuing scary, misleading stories being carried in both the trade and consumer media, which, once again, undermines our sector. This is far from helpful and needs to stop.”

In response, a FSA spokesperson said: "We explain on our website that the campylobacter deaths figure is a previous estimate, and that we are continuing to analyse the full impact that campylobacter has. We are determining which updated figures to use in the future.

"Over the past five years we have been using our sampling data to expose the levels of campylobacter, because this dangerous but naturally occurring pathogen on poultry in the UK is the leading cause of food poisoning. Helping consumers understand the risks, working with producers and retailers, setting targets for reduction, sharing knowledge and data, pushing everybody them to work together to find new ways of doing things, we have reduced campylobacter to a level that they said wasn't possible five years ago. Next year thousands fewer people will get seriously ill because of the work we've all done."

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