UK to target poultry production issues, FSA announce
The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) formally agreed last week to target Campylobacter at its principal source: poultry production.
The FSA has decided to require reporting of campylobacter levels all along the supply chain, dropping regulatory barriers to the adoption of what it calls “new and effective technological innovations for reducing campylobacter risks at all stages in the food supply chain,” and using regulations as necessary to “drive changes in behavior and approach.”
FSA’s own study five years ago found 65% of the chicken for sale in UK shops was contaminated with campylobacter. It is the most common cause of foodborne illnesses in the UK, making 460,000 people sick, sending 22,000 to hospitals, and causing about 110 deaths annually.
Catherine Brown, FSA’s chief executive officer, called for a “shift in culture” by both the government and the poultry industry.
FSA plans to change the way the British poultry industry works, beginning with improving farm biosecurity and continuing with steps to prevent carcass contamination during slaughter. It also wants the industry to explore changes in packaging that might reduce cross-contamination by both food services and consumers.
Etta Campbell, an FSA board member, said the issue, brought forward in an agency research paper, needed a greater “sense of urgency.” Steve Wearne, a co-author of the paper, said there’s been a lot of disappointment because campylobacter levels monitored during the past 12 months showed no improvement from the high levels recorded in 2007 and 2008.
Campylobacter and Salmonella contamination is also a problem in the US. However, USDA has not been able to change its 1950s-style carcass inspection system that focuses more on feathers and bruises than on deadly pathogens.
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