Calls for a ban on the sale of fresh chicken in New Zealand are a knee jerk reaction to unsubstantiated comments says Michael Brooks, executive director of the Poultry Industry Association (PIANZ).
New Zealand researchers Michael Baker and Nick Wilson have made comments not supported by their own findings, he says. The academics’ report says “there is no conclusively identified major cause of the increased Campylobacter incidence in New Zealand”.
Mr Brooks says New Zealanders know it is safe to eat properly cooked chicken – after all chicken consumption has been going up every year and last year they ate more than 37kg of it per person.
Reported rates of Campylobacter are high in New Zealand by world standards, the PIANZ chief agrees, but he points out farming methods and processing of poultry and the proportion of fresh production to frozen here are very similar to other countries.
“Consumption rates are similar too, so does New Zealand have higher rates because of its stricter reporting regime, or are there also other causes? ” Mr Brooks asks.
“Michael Baker provides no explanation from his three-year-old data as to why this difference arises, nor does the report provide evidence that banning the sale of fresh chicken will aid the issue.”
Meanwhile, the Food Safety Authority says decontamination washes may be the answer to the high incidence of the bug campylobacter in chicken.
The authority’s principal microbiologist, Roger Cook, says a wash of chlorine and salt could rid poultry of campylobacter.
Dr Cook says the wash is used overseas and appears to deal with other bugs, although there is a problem with discoloration of the meat.