Strategy for tackling 'biggest UK food safety challenge'

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Working with the UK food industry to tackle campylobacter has been identified by the Food Standards Agency as its key food safety priority for the next five years in proposals published today.

The draft Foodborne Disease Strategy, a roadmap for reducing all types of food poisoning in the UK by 2015, says that the increased prevalence of the bug 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% 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
  • 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.

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