Campylobacter has been put back in the spotlight this week, with British Poultry Council chief executive Andrew Large appearing on the BBC’s Breakfast programme with Food Standards Agency chief executive Catherine Brown.
The BBC interviews came ahead of an FSA board meeting (11 September) in which its revised strategy for reducing campylobacter on poultrymeat was approved.
Targets have been set to cut the most severe levels of on-carcass campylobacter from 35% to 15% by 2015. It is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK – considered responsible for up to 22,000 hospitalisations and 110 deaths every year.
Ms Brown also spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, outlining the strategy’s aims, and said the entire food chain needed to pull together to reduce the bug.
“Yes, farmers need to work really hard on improving biosecurity, but, just as much, I would say producers, slaughterhouses and retailers have a really important role to play,” she told the show.
On BBC Breakfast Mr Large stressed that the poultry industry was making “every effort” to minimise the risk of infection to humans.
“We fully recognise our responsibility to deliver safe food to consumers and we’re working in partnership with the FSA, retailers and all members of the joint working group on campylobacter to reduce risks associated with chicken. Since 2009, the joint working group has fostered research and conducted 70 projects, with promising results.”
Both Mr Large and Ms Brown emphasised the need for consumer education; taking proper precautions in the kitchen when preparing chicken can minimise the risk of human infection.