4 April 2000
Chicken has salmonella, says agency
ALMOST one-third of chickens in supermarkets and butchers may carry the salmonella bug, according to the new food safety watchdog.
This is at odds with supermarket claims that salmonella had in some cases been reduced to single figures.
High levels of contamination were revealed by Food Standards Agency chief executive Geoffrey Podger.
He said “early results” showed that salmonella seemed to remain in between 20-30% of chicken on sale.
But Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Meat Association, said he had not seen the figures and was unsure how they were reached.
Mr Bragnell told the Radio 4 Farming Today programme about figures from retailers given in evidence to the Commons Agriculture Select Committee.
“These talked about levels which were about half the levels mentioned by Mr Podger,” he said.
Mr Bragnell said major producers regularly pushed salmonella levels below 5%, less than 10% consistently, and that retailers had reported levels of 10-15%.
He said strict hygiene controls and testing had succeeded in reducing salmonella cases in humans by 27% last year and 30% the year before.
“We have a situation now where salmonella in humans is one of the less significant causes of food poisoning in humans in England and Wales.”
The FSA chairman Sir John Krebs also announced that the UKs 12,000 butchers faced compulsory licensing costing 100 from the autumn.
Under the regulations, butchers will receive training on hygiene through a government-supported scheme. Inspectors will have powers to revoke licences.
Small retailers warned that the move would unfairly penalise family butchers facing stiff supermarket competition.
Sir John also said he would “name and shame” companies which failed to meet new standards on hygiene and labelling.
In its editorial The Daily Telegraphsays “butchers have become the latest victims of the governments hysteria about food safety”.
It claims more farmers have been driven to suicide by the governments BSE regulations have died from its human form, new variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease.
Meanwhile, TheGuardian estimates that Britain throws away 500,000 tonnes of edible food worth 400 million each year.