FAQ: How much chicken do we eat?


One of the most common questions we get asked is how much chicken the UK eats. Here are two ways to look at it:

The 2013 annual total was about 870 million British birds bred, hatched, reared, and slaughtered in this country. We also imported the equivalent of (as cuts, portions, and products) another 400 million birds, the majority of which was from other European countries.

We can also estimate how many times chicken is eaten every year in the UK.
95% of the population (60.9 million people) eat chicken, and they tend to do so at least twice a week. Over the course of a year that’s 6.3 billion occasions where chicken is eaten in homes, schools, hospitals, and restaurants across the country.

Retail Survey Results


The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has today released the aggregated results of their survey of campylobacter in whole chickens at retail. The average figure of 59% of whole birds with campylobacter is a slight reduction on previous surveys.

Campylobacter reduction is our top priority. The poultry industry has been working closely with the FSA on developing techniques and technologies that will reduce the prevalence. We are confident that a number of emerging technologies will help us take significant steps forward in the near future.

These figures confirm the difficulties that we are facing. We support the FSA’s efforts to reinforce good kitchen hygiene practice, and to raise awareness of the issue and the progress we are making.

The Two Sides of Inspection


The current focus on practices in poultry plants has thrown rather an unfair light on the role of official inspection. With a full time presence in large plants there has been expressed an expectation that those professionals have the ability to oversee everything. This is far from the truth.

It is the responsibility of the Food Business Operator (FBO) to produce safe food. This includes having systems in place that quickly identify and correct failures that occur, whether that failure is in machinery or how employees conduct themselves. The official veterinarian, while he or she may be the one to spot an error, has an advisory and enforcement role. It is a system that supports the work of responsible FBOs and penalises consistent poor performance. It is one industry has faith in and values as an important part of food production.

There is another side to inspection that is in need of attention, of microbiological safety. It is an area where science and knowledge has vastly overtaken legislation. Existing European legislation on poultry meat inspection is based on a visual system. In essence, a person watching 10,000 birds an hour go past. Visual assessment will remain an important tool in checking bird health and welfare, identifying failures in the process, and ensuring quality requirements are met. However, we now know that food safety risks in poultry production are predominantly microbiological. This can’t be seen with the naked eye, and must be assessed by rigorous sampling and testing regimes.

There are legislative controls on the majority of pathogens associated with meat and poultry production, although not yet on campylobacter, and these are applied on the farm and in the slaughterhouse. Campylobacter controls across Europe are essentially voluntary. The British industry has taken the collective decision to drive forward on campylobacter controls, and it is leading the way on developing techniques and technologies to deal with the issue.

Across Europe, industry is calling on the Commission to change its outdated legislation to be risk-based and flexible enough to match developing knowledge and technology on campylobacter. What is needed is to focus resources where they can have the greatest effect in ensuring safe food.

At its best, legislation supports and enables an FBO to produce and deliver an optimum product to consumers. At its worst it can be a barrier to best practice, a regulatory “computer says no”.

FBO responsibility and official inspection are two sides of the same coin, and either one should not be debated in isolation. Both are responsible and professional, and can contribute to campylobacter reduction. We have an opportunity now to have an open and honest review of the tools we need.

The Guardian: BPC response


Today, The Guardian has published a series of allegations against two members of the British Poultry Council.

The individual incidents shown appear to be breaches of good hygiene and manufacturing practice. They will be thoroughly investigated and corrective action taken to ensure they are not repeated. However, they are isolated events and are in no way representative of the high standards of the chicken industry as a whole.

Food safety is the top priority for British Poultry Council members. The members concerned have strenuously denied the allegations accompanying the images, and have restated their commitment to producing safe food for all their customers. The BPC stands beside them in their commitment to customer service excellence. The companies concerned have made more detailed statements, which can be accessed using the links below.



All BPC members are proud of their high quality produce, which is safely enjoyed by millions of British consumers every day. Poultry is the UK’s favourite meat and consumers can enjoy it safe in the knowledge that it has been produced to high and externally audited standards.

Campylobacter: BPC Position


Campylobacter is a naturally occurring bacteria found in the gut of many animals. It is a global issue and all those involved in supplying meat have a role to play in reducing campylobacter. People handling fresh chicken and other meats – whether in restaurant kitchens or in the home – should always follow good hygiene practices and cook food thoroughly as this kills campylobacter.

The poultry industry has been working hard to tackle campylobacter and we fully recognise our responsibility to ensure the food we produce is safe. We have worked with the FSA, DEFRA, BRC and the NFU since 2009, through a Joint Working Group, on a reduction plan. The partnership approach has been successful in driving industry-wide efforts.

Over the last five years, over 70 scientific research projects have been conducted and new trials are currently taking place. While much new information has been obtained through these projects, more work is required to find a consistent means of reduction. We are seeking to update food hygiene legislation specifically to minimise campylobacter.

We have improved biosecurity standards within our independently audited assurance schemes and are utilising new rapid-testing techniques for data collection. We are also focusing on employee education and making sure poultry employees continue to have the effective tools to implement campylobacter reduction measures. Last, but not least, we are pushing forward with proven slaughterhouse interventions.

Over the next 18 months, BPC members will be moving to a delivery phase with large scale trials and implementation of those measures that are most promising for campylobacter reduction. We continue to work closely with all the Joint Working Group partners to implement effective measures against campylobacter as soon as practicable. 



21 July 2014 – Price is the most important factor for consumers when choosing which meat to buy and eat, with over three-fifths (61%) saying this has the biggest impact on their decision. Appearance is an important factor for a third of consumers (33%), followed closely by taste (31%). Consumers in the South West and aged 18-24 (both 70%) are the most price conscious, whereas those aged 65 and over are the least likely to prioritise cost (only 45%).

Following the horsemeat crisis in January 2013, the poultry industry has continued to flourish with one in five respondents (19%) saying they now eat more poultry than beef, pork or other meat.

The survey conducted by Populus on behalf of the BPC shows that buying British is a priority for many consumers with 60% reporting that they always (22%) or mostly (38%) make sure that the meat they buy is British. 29% of Scots say they always buy British meat, compared to only 14% of those in Yorkshire and Humber.

Commenting on the figures, Andrew Large, Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council, said: “The UK poultry industry continues to feed the nation. British provenance remains important for the majority of consumers and so we will strive to provide them with high quality, healthy and affordable products.”

British Poultry Council increases support for Harper Adams students


The British Poultry Council’s support for Harper Adams University students is growing this year, with two more companies joining the BPC scholarships scheme and each financial award being increased by £1,000, to £4,500 per year.

The BPC has sponsored scholarships for Harper Adams’ students for four years. Students compete for the awards, which provide the winning scholars with funding for up to two academic years plus a guaranteed, paid placement year with a partner company.

Banham Poultry Ltd and Two Sisters Food Group have entered the scheme this year, joining Aviagen, Bernard Matthews Foods, Cargill Meats Europe, Faccenda Foods, Gressingham Foods, PD Hook, Kelly Turkeys and Moy Park.

The companies will present their work placement opportunities to second year students on agriculture and food courses in the autumn, ready to receive their scholars in summer 2015.

Andrew Large, Chief Executive of the BPC, said: “The British Poultry Council is again delighted to be working with Harper Adams University in support of the poultry scholarships.

“We attach the utmost importance to recruiting, developing and retaining the best talent into the poultry meat sector and look forward to working with our members, the scholars and Harper Adams University to offer the widest possible opportunities to experience all that the poultry sector has to offer.”

Harper Adams University Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Llewellyn, added: “We were delighted to learn that the BPC is expanding its support for our students. The addition of two companies to the scheme and the increase in the scholarships’ financial value are very welcome, and can only serve to enhance the scheme’s objective to draw new talent into the poultry industry.

“The scheme has been hugely successful – students who had not previously considered working in poultry have been attracted to these opportunities and have graduated determined to make their careers in the sector, many returning to their placement employer following their work experience year.

“We look forward to introducing our students to Banham Poultry Ltd and Two Sisters Food Group this year, and are extremely pleased that they have decided to join this ground-breaking collaboration between industry and the University.”


Food Security Inquiry


Following the publication of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee’s report into Food Security, which can be found here, Andrew Large has responded:

“We are pleased that the Committee has given serious consideration to Food Security. It remains an important issue not only for the food industry, but for all in the UK. There are important matters raised in this report. The Government should consider them carefully and indicate in its response how the UK’s food security can be ensured.”

“As per our evidence to the Committee we particularly welcome the Committee’s focus on the strategic risk posed by animal feed imports. In January of this year 70% of our members said feed prices were the single most important factor in their overall cost of production. The poultry meat sector expects that this will be an important element of future UK food security policy.”

UK Poultry Health Standards


Please find a summary of information concerning health schemes and freedom from disease in the UK poultry breeding industry here.

Poultry Meat – the Healthy Alternative


The following is a link to the article: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/../../andrew-large/poultry-meat_b_5511632.html