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FSA disappointed with lack of progress on campylobacter results

FSA disappointed with lack of progress on campylobacter results

A Food Standards Agency report has branded the failure to meet targets for tackling campylobacter as "disappointing", and has added that attitude in the industry need to change.

The report, released last Friday by the FSA's food safety director Steve Wearne, suggested that the campylobacter Joint Working Group (JWG) had not made enough progress on tackling the pathogen.

The JWG is currently made up of representatives from both the government and the industry, and was established in order to cut the amount of raw chicken with the highest contamination levels (over 1,000 colony forming units/gram) from 27 per cent to ten per cent by the year 2015.

Despite investing around £5.1 million into trying to find a solution to the problem, the percentage has actually increased from its current level to 30 per cent.

It stated: "Although a considerable amount of effort and expenditure has been put to taking the Joint Action Plan forward, the lack of concrete progress is disappointing."

"There is presently an acceptance in the industry that in the absence of a ‘silver bullet’ a high level of contamination will inevitably occur, and a sense of powerlessness in addressing the issue."

Results from studies and trials have suggested the new requirement have not been applied by producers to a level that would be deemed satisfactory.

It has further suggested in order to maintain current targets, it should attempt to step up its efforts through  a number of other methods, including improving the level of information about the pathogen, as well as confront the legal barrier to employing certain technologies to combat it.

One such technology to be mentioned is the rapid surface chilling process, which works by exposing the carcasses to incredibly cold gases for just a short period of time.

Trials are set to be begin soon, and will be rolled out for commercial use if successful from 2014.

According to the report, contaminated poultry is the most the common source of campylobacter with respect to human health, responsible for 50-80 per cent of campylobacteriosis cases.


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