The FSA today released the latest set of figures in its ongoing survey of campylobacter in whole chicken at retail. It continues to monitor the progress on introducing various interventions into the food chain aimed at reducing campylobacter.
The figures, covering February to November 2014, go up to a point where significant interventions began being trialled in slaughterhouses, following years of research into this complex bacterium. These trials have continued to date and the second half of 2015 will see them moving into full scale production and their effectiveness translating into the survey figures.
Commenting on the results, Andrew Large, Chief Executive said:
“We welcome the news that retailers and their suppliers are making significant progress, and hope that proven technology will be made commercially available across the sector. The BPC remains committed to collaborative working between industry, retailers, and regulators, as we believe this is where long-term consistency will emerge. This joint effort is a complement to the creativity and investment we are seeing.”
“We are pleased to see the FSA’s commitment to solving this problem remains as strong as our own, and we look forward to being able to demonstrate good progress as we move through 2015.”
For more information please call Chris Potter on 07540 501173 or Ailsa Logan on 0207 400 4480.
Notes to Editors
- Campylobacter Website
The Campylobacter website launched on 26 November 2014. It has been designed by the group to provide consumers information on campylobacter, the work being undertaken to understand the bacterium, steps being taken and the progress in tackling it in the UK. As a central resource, it also has information on the role consumers can play in tackling the bug at home – like any bacteria, campylobacter is killed by proper cooking and good kitchen hygiene should always be followed when handling any meat.
- About Campylobacter and the Joint Working Group
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 fully recognises its responsibility to ensure the food it produces is safe. It has 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 into the bacteria 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.
In 2015, the JWG will be moving to a delivery phase with large scale trials and implementation of those measures that are most promising for campylobacter reduction. The industry will continue to work closely with all the JWG partners to implement effective measures against campylobacter as soon as practical.
- About the Interventions
BPC members are trialling a variety of interventions in their businesses and exchanging information on which approach works best in reducing campylobacter while maintaining product quality. Not every intervention is appropriate for each set of circumstances.
||Red Tractor standards now have enhanced biosecurity built into them. This includes, foot dips, clothing requirements and biosecurity barriers.
||Birds in poultry houses that are not thinned are all taken to slaughter at the same time. This reduces the human/bird interaction, and minimises the opportunity for campylobacter to be brought into a flock.
||Revised Red Tractor standards also include the requirement that catching teams abide by the same biosecurity standards as farm staff and that all equipment is disinfected with a DEFRA approved disinfectant prior to use.
||Crate and Module washing
||Poultry is transported to the slaughterhouse in creates contained in a module. These will be thoroughly washed prior to re-use to prevent cross contamination between flocks.
||Slaughtered poultry is scalded prior to de-feathering to loosen the feathers. They may be scalded a second time after de-feathering to remove any contamination.
||All BPC producers will ensure that they optimise the maintenance and adjustment of their carcass washing systems to ensure a maximum level of cleaning of each bird.
||As part of the chilling process, some producers will be trialling temperature treatment of the birds to reduce and remaining levels of bacteria.
Sonosteam treatment works as follows:
The zone of air closest to the surface serves as a protective mantel restricting vapour and heat exchange across the surface. This layer is often referred to as the laminar sub-layer.
The ultrasound sets the air of the laminar zone in a state with intensified molecular oscillations, causing the steam to be continuously pumped and forced towards the very surface of the target material. This results in a destruction of the protective characteristics of the laminar sub-layer and hot steam can now enter microstructures and pits in the surface and secure fast heat transfer. The continuous pumping of new steam creates a fast, substantial flux of heat to the surface structure.
Due to the small size of microorganisms, these are heated and killed so quickly that the depth of heat entrance into the surface of the product is kept at a minimum. Therefore, the treatment can be stopped before the surface is sensory affected. That is why the effective processing time in a SonoSteam® treatment is very short and for some applications even shorter than one second.
Cold temperature treatments work as follows:
In one technology the surface of the birds is exposed to a liquid nitrogen spray at -196 degree Centigrade for a few seconds to chill the surface layer down below freezing (but above -2 degrees Centigrade) and kill bacteria.
Another technology uses the liquid nitrogen to chill air, which again is used to chill the surface layer down below freezing (but above -2 degree Centigrade) and kill bacteria.
||Some producers and retailers are packaging that does not need to be removed prior to cooking, removing an opportunity for cross contamination in the kitchen
||The BPC and its members continue to educate the public about the need for good kitchen hygiene to avoid cross contamination and thorough cooking.
- Chicken Statistics
Chicken is the most popular meat eaten in the UK. In 2014 about 900 million British birds were 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 is 6.3 billion occasions where chicken is eaten in homes, schools, hospitals, and restaurants across the country.
- About the British Poultry Council
The British Poultry Council is the leading representative organisation for companies and individuals engaged in breeding, hatching, rearing and processing chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese to produce poultry meat. BPC members are responsible for producing over 90% of the UK’s total output of poultry meat, which included just over 900 million chicken broilers in 2014 (up from just over 780 million in 2001). Based on sales of £6.1 billion in 2012, the poultry meat industry made a £3.3 billion gross value added contribution to UK GDP. The industry supports 73,200 jobs in the UK – 35,400 direct, 25,100 in the supply chain and 12,800 in wage consumption). By weight, poultry makes up around half of all meat purchased in the UK.