FSA plans to tackle campylobacter
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has pledged to tackle campylobacter in an attempt to reduce cases of human food poisoning in the UK.
A strategy has been published which aims to help control campylobacter in chicken, which remains the most common cause of food poisoning in humans.
Campylobacter is thought to be responsible for around 460,000 cases of food poisoning, and 110 deaths in the UK each year.
According to the FSA, 50 to 80 per cent of campylobacteriosis cases in the UK and other EU countries come from poultry.
Back in 2007/8, an FSA survey found that 65 per cent of chicken on sale in shops was contaminated with campylobacter. Although the agency says reducing cases is its top priority, there is as yet no evidence to suggest that the number of cases has decreased.
Part of the FSA's plan to address this involves improving the available information on campylobacter levels at all stages of the supply chain.
The agency says it expects the food industry to develop new initiatives, continue to improve biosecurity on farms and ensure that slaughter and processing methods prevent the contamination of carcasses.
Working alongside government partners, the FSA has also pledged to ensure that businesses using chilled chicken are aware of the risks of campylobacter.
Long-term interventions to tackle the problem, such as vaccinations, will also be investigated through research programmes.
Catherine Brown, FSA Chief Executive, said: "I feel that because this is a complex and difficult issue there has tended to be an acceptance that a high level of contamination will inevitably occur and that there’s little that can be done to prevent it.
"The FSA doesn’t believe this is the case and this paper sets out how together we can make progress towards reducing the number of people who get ill from campylobacter."