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FSA Strategy to Focus on Campylobacter

by 5m Editor
10 June 2010, at 9:32a.m.

UK - Working with the UK food industry to tackle Campylobacter has been identified by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as its key food safety priority for the next five years in proposals published this week.

The draft Foodborne Disease Strategy, a road-map for reducing all types of food poisoning in the UK by 2015, says that the increased prevalence of the bacterium Campylobacter – found on raw chicken – is the biggest challenge for food safety in the UK.

The Agency says that a strong partnership with UK food businesses and agreements on new intervention measures across the food chain will be the key to success.

The most recent study by the Agency showed that 65 per cent of raw shop-bought chicken was contaminated with Campylobacter. An estimated 300,000 cases of food poisoning are attributed to the bug every year in England and Wales alone.

The Agency's proposed action on campylobacter includes:

  • working closely with the UK food industry to trial new intervention measures on the farm, in slaughterhouses and at retail level
  • setting a new target for reducing the levels of campylobacter on chicken by 2015, and
  • helping to ensure people can protect themselves from infection with campylobacter by making sure they are aware of the need to avoid cross-contamination when handling raw chicken and to cook chicken thoroughly.

In addition to the fight against Campylobacter, the Foodborne Disease Strategy outlines a full five-year programme for the reduction of food poisoning cases from all sources. In the UK every year, around one million people suffer a foodborne illness, leading to 20,000 needing hospital care and around 500 deaths.

The Agency is consulting on the details of the strategy with a view to publishing the final version later this year.

Andrew Wadge, Chief Scientist at the Food Standards Agency, said: "One of the Agency's strategic objectives for the next five years is to continue to ensure that food produced or sold in the UK is safe to eat. For 10 years, since the Agency was set up, we have worked hard with the food industry to reduce the rates of food poisoning in this country.

"By 2005, the number of food poisoning cases had come down by almost 20 per cent, saving the economy some £750 million. We need to emulate that early success and I am determined that this strategy will re-energise our efforts."

For more information on the consultations, click here.