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".
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."