London, Monday 27 October 2014 - Richard Macdonald CBE has been named as the new Chair of the joint industry and government body focused on the reduction of campylobacter in chicken. Campylobacter is a significant source of food poisoning in humans with 70,000 GP reported cases and 280,000 estimated total cases every year. The Joint Working Group (JWG) is a collaborative approach between the Food Standards Agency, Defra, British Poultry Council, British Retail Consortium, and National Farmers Union designed to reduce campylobacter at every stage of the supply chain.
Announcing his appointment, Richard MacDonald said: “I’m pleased to have been asked to help deliver meaningful progress in reducing campylobacter. I look forward to working with industry and government in this fight against a naturally occurring bug that is a very complex and persistent opponent.”
He concluded: “This is where we have to enact all that we’ve learnt over the last five years. The UK is leading the way on what is a global issue, and we have a responsibility to apply ourselves diligently and consistently to solving the problem.”
FSA Chief Executive, Catherine Brown, welcomed the move: “We’re delighted that Richard has taken on this role. We look forward to the group driving meaningful industry action to reduce campylobacter”.
Mr MacDonald takes over from Peter Bradnock, former Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council, who guided the JWG through its first phase of research and development. The second phase of the work will see interventions and new technologies introduced throughout the farming and production chain, from biosecurity practices on farm, to interventions in the slaughterhouse and novel packaging solutions at retail.
Responding to MacDonald’s appointment, Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council Andrew Large said: “The UK poultry meat industry welcomes Richard’s appointment. Industry, retailers and government have worked hard to understand this bug and now look forward to continue to work together under Richard’s Chairmanship to take our work to the next stage.”
“The UK poultry meat industry remains committed to tackling this naturally occurring bug, but consumers should also remember that they have a responsibility. Whenever handling fresh chicken and other meats – whether in restaurant kitchens or in the home – people should always follow good hygiene practices and cook food thoroughly as this kills campylobacter.”
For more information call Chris Potter on 07540 501173.
Notes to Editors
Biography of Richard MacDonald
Mr MacDonald was the Director General of the NFU from 1996 to 2009. Since then he has chaired Defra’s Better Regulation Task Force; is a Non-Executive Director of Moy Park, Dairy Crest, the Environment Agency and the Royal Agricultural University; is Vice Chairman of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany; and Chairman of Farm Africa. In 2002 he was awarded with a CBE for services to agriculture. He has extensive knowledge of UK food and farming, served on numerous DEFRA food and policy strategy groups having a strong background in government relations. He will begin his tenure as Chair of the JWG on 12th November 2014.
Chicken is the most popular meat eaten in the UK. 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. Since 2009 the JWG has undertaken over seventy projects on increasing our knowledge of how campylobacter gets into, and can be removed from, the supply chain.
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 bug 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. The British Poultry Meat industry is seeking to update food hygiene legislation specifically to minimise campylobacter.
Over the next 18 months, 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 practicable
BPC Industry Confidence Survey – Summer to Winter 2014
Economy and Production
- Compared to six months ago, there has been a 17.5% increase (from 20% to 37.5%) in BPC members feeling “more confident” regarding the future of the industry. From those surveyed no one was feeling less confident.
- As with the winter 2014 survey the single most important cited factor behind the industry’s future prospects continues to be consumer demand (75%), an increase of around 5%. This is followed by grain prices (12.5%) and global economic instability (12.5%). This is a change in focus from the last survey where regulatory burdens (10%) and skills investment (10%), were considered important.
- Compared to six months ago, half of those surveyed are feeling “more confident” regarding the future of the industry. Reasons given included investment, which appears to be more forthcoming now. The other half surveyed felt “about the same” in confidence for the future of their business. Although, consumer demand is high there is exchange rate volatility which is causing concern.
- Consumer demand (71.43%) is the single most important factor behind people’s view of the future prospect of their business, a slight increase on last year’s results.
- 5% say production levels have slightly increased over the last six months. An increase of around 22.5%.
- The main reason cited for shifts in production levels include “cost reduction”, “cost reduction programmes [being undertaken]”. However, others cited “fuel prices”, “reduced feed prices” and “utilisation improvements”.
Skills and Employment Levels
- 5% of respondents reported “no change” in employment levels over the past six months, whilst 37.5% reported a “slight increase”. This is stark contrast to winter 2014, where 90% reported no change and 10% said there had been a “slight decrease”.
- It has been mooted that the reason for this change is the “positive trend” [the industry and company is making].
- As with the winter 2014, all respondents with apprenticeship schemes are on track to recruit the number of apprenticeships needed or outlined in the company’s business plan.
- 5% of the companies surveyed they said their training budget had “increased” over the past six months. Once again, no one has decreased their training budget. It is interesting to note that when the same companies were surveyed six months ago about the winter to summer 2014 period, only 11% thought employment levels would increase.
- Looking forward, until winter 2015 around a quarter believe their training budget will increase over the next six months.
- Once again, the industry is reporting a slight increase in its skills base, perhaps reflecting the increased numbers of staff.
- Over half of all respondents report that feed costs had a positive impact on their business (12.5% said significant positive Impact and 50% said slight positive impact).
- 100% of members are reporting that planning and environmental regulations are having a significant negative impact on the creation and expansion of poultry farms.
- Fuel costs have also had a more positive impact on business, with 37.5% indicating they had seen “a slight positive impact”. This is in stark contrast to last winter and before the HM Budget 2014 when 37.5% reported a slight negative impact and no one said they had a positive impact.
- Respondents also changed their perception of tax policies from the last survey, with 37.5% reporting they had a “slightly negative impact”, compared with last survey reporting the same figure but as a “slightly positive impact”. We saw no one reporting that taxes had a positive impact.
- The BPC surveyed its members within the poultry industry between the 2nd July through to the 14th July 2014.