Poultry safety

UK: Going after poultry problem with changes in technology and culture

Campylobacter is the pathogen making most people sick in the United Kingdom and, earlier this week, the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) formally agreed to target the problem at its principal source: poultry production.

FSA has decided to require reporting of campylobacter levels all along the supply chain, dropping regulatory barriers to the adoption of what it calls “new and effective technological innovations for reducing campylobacter risks at all stages in the food supply chain,” and using regulations as necessary to “drive changes in behavior and approach.”

FSA’s own study five years ago found 65 percent of the chicken for sale in UK shops was contaminated with campylobacter. It is the most common cause of foodborne illnesses in the UK, making 460,000 people sick, sending 22,000 to hospitals, and causing about 110 deaths annually.

Catherine Brown, FSA’s chief executive officer, called for a “shift in culture” by both the government and the poultry industry.

“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 inevitability occur and there is little that can be done to prevent it,” Brown said.

FSA plans to change the way the British poultry industry works, beginning with improving farm biosecurity and continuing with steps to prevent carcass contamination during slaughter. It also wants the industry to explore changes in packaging that might reduce cross-contamination by both food services and consumers…..

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