The UK Food Standards Agency has released an update on its strategic approach to the reduction of Campylobacter contamination in chicken produced in the UK, which identifies control of the pathogen as a core business priority for producers, processors and retailers.
The update was presented to the Agency Board meeting on 5 March and gives details of the progress made since the Board agreed the strategy in September 2013. It states that actions designed to reduce the prevalence of Campylobacter in UK chicken have already been identified and initiated along the supply chain, but points out that more effort will be required to cut rates of human infection significantly.
A key technical development is identified in the form of a successful trial of a Rapid Surface Chilling process developed by poultry producer Bernard Matthews and BOC Linde with the collaboration of chicken processor the Faccenda Group. The commercial scale trial reportedly delivered a greater than 1-log (>90%) reduction in Campylobacter contamination levels without breaching temperature requirements for fresh poultry meat. The process is now expected to be implemented by other UK poultry processors.
A major survey of Campylobacter on domestically produced retail chicken has also been initiated. This will test about 4,000 samples of whole fresh chickens over a year and will look at any differences between housed and free-range birds. Results will be published at three-monthly intervals beginning in June.
The full progress report is available on the Agency web site here.