The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is on track to introduce a new method of testing campylobacter levels on chicken later this month.
The regulator suspended its quarterly retail survey in march after processors began trimming neck skin – the area of highest contamination – to the extent that a meaningful sample was difficult to take.
Catherine Brown, FSA chief executive, told a recent board meeting phase one of the work on a methodology had concluded and discussed with the Acting on Campylobacter Together (ACT) Board members.
Ms Brown said there had been some modifications made following discussions, and final work was now under way to confirm a new testing regime.
“We expect the new methodology to be used for the recommencement of the retail survey in August,” she added.
She added that the FSA was encouraging the development of a new campylobacter proficiency-testing scheme. This would involve sending samples to all participating testing laboratories to ensure that campylobacter was being detected uniformly and at the correct levels.
The FSA is also strongly encouraging the retail industry to move towards publishing its own campylobacter testing data – in line with robust standards being developed – with a view to then removing them from its own retail survey.
“This will reduce the cost to the taxpayer of the FSA monitoring industry performance and also allow industry to speak directly to their customers about how seriously they are tackling contamination on their whole chicken.”