2 Sisters hot on scalding to beat campylobacter

By Alice Foster

- Last updated on GMT

Two Sisters
Two Sisters

Related tags Supermarket Food standards agency Bacteria

2 Sisters Food Group (2SFG) revealed plans to step up control of campylobacter with techniques such as secondary scalding, after the Food Standards Agency (FSA) reported 73% of supermarket chickens tested positive for the food bug.  

A fifth of chickens were found to be heavily contaminated with campylobacter during a year-long survey of supermarkets and butchers, according to a FSA report​ published yesterday (September 10).

Responding to the findings, a statement from 2SFG outlined its reduction plan which included a treatment to kill bacteria with heat, known as secondary scalding.  

With the further use of our new factory intervention like our secondary scalding technique, we anticipate an even great removal of campylobacter, reducing its presence to significantly less than the industry target of 10%,” ​the statement said.

‘Rolling out initiative’

Results from survey between February 2014 and March 2015

  • 19% of chickens were heavily contaminated
  • 73% of chickens were contaminated
  • 0.1% of packaging was heavily contaminated
  • 7% of packaging was contaminated

“The success of these trials means we are now looking at rolling this initiative out to a wider customer base.”

2SFG said tests carried out on blast surface chilling, which uses low temperatures, showed the poultry processor could reduce campylobacter on carcasses.

The company also said its data indicated “significant signs of improvement”​ due other measures such as not thinning out poultry flocks, a practice linked to increased infection loads.

The update comes after 2SFG launched a £10M campylobacter reduction programme in November.

Investment in systems

The FSA’s director of policy Steve Wearne said its survey had resulted in businesses investing in systems to control the potentially lethal food poisoning bacteria.

“Thanks to the focus the survey has put on the industry, retailers and processors are starting to invest in new interventions to tackle the bug,”​ Wearne said.

The FSA has also welcomed case studies on campylobacter reduction from retailers Marks & Spencer, the Co­-operative, Waitrose, Aldi and Iceland.

Meanwhile, one of the candidates for Food Manufacture's Food Personality of the Year Award​ has long advocated rapid surface chilling as a means of combating campylobacter in chickens. 

Jeremy Hall, technical director of Bernard Matthews, believed the technique could slash campylobacter for about 10p on the price of a chicken. 

Campylobacter is responsible for around 280,000 cases of food poisoning every year in the UK, according to the FSA.

2 Sisters’ approach to reduce campylobacter

  • Farmer training and incentive scheme
  • No ‘thinning’ of poultry flocks
  • Blast surface chilling and secondary scalding
  • Auditor visits
  • Packaging and labelling

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