Retailers and meat industry to tackle campylobacter

Retailers and representatives of the poultrymeat industry have unveiled a detailed plan to reduce levels of campylobacter bacteria in chicken meat in a similar way to how the salmonella virus was tackled in the 1990s.

Campylobacter is found in the intestines of poultry, wild birds and other animals and can cause illness in humans. It usually occurs when people are infected after consuming undercooked poultry.

The British Poultry Council and the British Retail Consortium plan involves a range of measures, including improving farm biosecurity and hygiene practices as well as introducing leak-proof packaging at retail level.

“We have already reduced cases of salmonella to some of the lowest levels in Europe. Building on this success, retailers are working with poultry producers and the government to find effective solutions to tackle campylobacter,” British Retail Consortium food policy adviser, Sally Barber said.

BRC and the BPC have set up a joint working group to scrutinise regulations governing campylobacter, comprising members of the industry, the Food Standards Agency (which has just avoided being closed in recent government cutbacks) and DEFRA.

BPC chief executive Peter Bradnock said: “We still need to know more about this organism, but we need to be sure we are doing all we can with the science we already have at every point in the chain. The British poultry industry is fully committed to this action.”

Consumers were also advised to be more vigilant when preparing and cooking poultrymeat to avoid spreading infection.

“Consumers must follow basic hygiene principles to prevent cross-contamination during food preparation,” said Ms Barber.

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