Foodex 2016

Campylobacter: rapid chilling is ‘nearest to silver bullet’

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food standards agency Food safety Fsa

Campylobacter control using rapid surface chilling (RSC) is “the nearest thing we have to a silver bullet”, and should be adopted widely to cut infection levels, according to Bernard Matthews group technical director Jeremy Hall.

RSC was capable of cutting campylobacter levels by 90–95%, according to a study by food research organisation Campden BRI, Matthews told in this exclusive video interview.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) should act more decisively – supporting a number of techniques including RSC – to reduce the rate of Britain’s number one cause of food poisoning, said Hall.

“The ​FSA and the government should take a much more positive approach and no longer accept a level of food poisoning from campylobacter that is 10 times worse than that delivered by salmonella,” ​he said, speaking after taking part in a videoed panel discussion on campylobacter at Foodex.

Effective campylobacter control relied, in part, on the government ensuring the FSA had enough money to tackle the problem, which was costing the National Health Service millions of pounds.

Key interventions

RSC was one of a number of key interventions that would be essential if the poultry sector and retailers were to meet lower UK and EU targets, he continued.

“We need a much more effective and focused treatment ​[of campylobacter] by the FSA to make sure we sort this problem now. We have been talking about it ​[RSC] and trying it for five or six years.

“Now is the time when we know what to do.”

Meanwhile, after the campylobacter video debate, the FSA published a document targeting a reduction of 100,000 human cases a year, from the 280,000 currently reported.

Commenting on the lower target, Hall said meeting it seemed impossible without the introduction of multiple in slaughter plant process interventions, including RSC.

Relied on the uptake of RSC

Also, meeting reduced EU targets for campylobacter – by this summer – relied on the uptake of RSC, he added.

The Bernard Matthews boss was speaking after taking part in Food Manufacture’s Big Video Debate – Combatting campylobacter: the path ahead – which took place at the Foodex trade show on Monday April 18.

Also taking part in the videoed panel discussion were: Richard Griffiths, director, food policy at British Poultry Council and Rod Addy, editor of Meat Trades Journal and Global Meat News.

Meanwhile, other Big Video Debates​ taking place at Foodex focused on food and drink crime​ and apprenticeships​.

Foodex took place at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham between April 18 and 19. 

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