Consumers call for campylobacter reductions

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

66% of people think the poultry industry should do more to reduce campylobacter
66% of people think the poultry industry should do more to reduce campylobacter
Two thirds (66%) of consumers think the poultry industry should do more to reduce campylobacter contamination beyond the agreed current target of less than 10%.

The research of 1,295 respondents, conducted by TNS BMRB for the Food Standards Agency (FSA), also found that 75% said retailers should also be informing consumers what proportion of chickens were at the highest levels of contamination.

The research showed that 76% of people questioned wanted retailers to do more to explain to them what measures they were taking to reduce campylobacter levels on the raw chicken they sell.

More than half of people (53%) said they would start buying chicken from another retailer if their usual shop was found to sell more than the industry average of ‘high risk’ chicken.

Campylobacter survey resumes

The research was released to coincide with the resumption this month of the campylobacter survey, part of the on-going effort to reduce the high levels of food poisoning caused by the bug. 

Testing was suspended in April 2016 so the FSA could update the way the survey was carried out to ensure results continued to be consistent and robust. 

The suspension was in response to the poultry sector beginning to routinely remove the neck skins or flaps of birds, where high levels of campylobacter had commonly been found during testing. It was part of the Acting on Campylobacter Together initiative by the industry to reduce levels of campylobacter contamination.

Steve Wearne, director of policy at the FSA, said: “Publishing surveillance data on campylobacter has prompted action from retailers and processors and we are now seeing progress 

“Our campaign has also raised awareness of campylobacter amongst the public and it is good to see from our research that it is customers, and not just the FSA, demanding action and information from retailers.

“We have always said that consumer power will ultimately push industry action.

Processors commended​ 

“Many retailers and processors should be commended for the action they have taken so far.

“The majority signed up to the pledge to ensure that campylobacter in chicken ceases to be a significant public health issue, and continued action will be needed to deliver this.”

The latest data from the FSA released in May and covering the period from January to March 2016 showed that campylobacter rates continued to fall.

Campylobacter was present on 50% of the 1,009 chicken samples tested down from 71% in the equivalent quarter in the previous year. 

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