Food Safety conference

New campylobacter control costs only 4–5p a bird

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food standards agency

A new technique to control campylobacter infections in poultry – which killed 110 Britons last year – is being developed at the modest cost of only 4–5p a bird.

Rapid surface chilling significantly cuts campylobacter infections on the skin on poultry, Bernard Matthews’ group technical director Jeremy Hall told delegates at the Food Manufacture Group’s food safety conference this week.

The treatment with cryogenic gas can cut the level of campylobacter infections to below 1,000 organisms/gm, which meets the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) target, Hall told in this exclusive video.

“It costs a few pence per bird and seems a relatively small cost to pay to guarantee food safety to the family and the home,”​ said Hall.

‘A degree of resistance’

But despite the modest cost of the treatment, rapid surface chilling was proving far from universally popular. “There’s a degree of resistance to adding to the cost of consumers’ shopping,”​ he added.

“But if you spoke to most shoppers they would rather have a guaranteed safe product in the home, rather than currently, where there may be some questions about the carcasses as to their​ [campylobacter] count.”

Given full retailer backing

Given full retailer backing, poultry complying with FSA campylobacter standards could be in shoppers’ baskets towards the end of next year, said Hall.

The FSA is due to name (and possibly shame) retailers selling chicken with the highest and lowest campylobacter infections​ next month.  

The food safety conference – Safe and legal food in a changing world – was sponsored by: ACO Building Drainage, Activate Lubricants, AON, Detectamet, FFP Packaging Solutions, the Food Advanced Training Partnership and the Institute of Food Research. It took place at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire on Thursday October 15.

Meanwhile, don’t miss Professor Sarah O’Brien’s top four food safety threats​, identified at the same conference.

Watch out for more conference reports next week.

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