Speaking at the BPC Awards at the Houses of Parliament, BPC chairman Ted Wright highlighted that while the industry was already working closely with government on the fight against campylobacter, more was needed.
“Foodborne illness caused by campylobacter infection is still a problem. We know it is a widespread bacterium and that the chicken’s gut provides an ideal environment for it to multiply. We are keen to work further to reduce campylobacter on poultrymeat.”
While indoor rearing can help reduce the incidence, greater scientific understanding is needed of how the organism gets into flocks. There have been several joint research projects between FSA and industry over many years, but we need to distil these findings into interventions that work.
“As Andrew Wadge of the FSA said recently, we need to look at what cost-effective measures we can put in place between the farm and the fork, which will intervene to eliminate camplylobacter,” said Mr Wright.
“Therefore, we want to set-up a joint technical group to pull these together. There’s a lot to do in this area, but we can hope that one day we will have campylobacter under control, at least in the poultry sector, in the same way that we now control salmonella.
Moving to food security, Mr Wright highlighted DEFRA’s recent discussion paper on food security which identifies food safety as one of the key attributes of food security.
“In Britain, we are only 75% self-sufficient in food. Almost half of the chicken breast eaten in Britain is imported. Government agencies need to think seriously about our domestic food production capability.
“Clearly, longer, international supply chains have their own vulnerabilities. In our own view, it is simply not good enough for government to say that we are food secure because we can import from a number of different countries, when many of these places are themselves becoming less stable.
He concluded: “The measure of a sustainable farming sector must include the ability to safely feed our population.”