17% decline in Campylobacter
New figures from UK surveillance bodies show a 17% decline in the number of laboratory reports of human cases of campylobacter in 2016. This meets the FSA aim to reduce the number of people getting ill from the food poisoning bug.
The FSA estimate that this means that there are 100,000 fewer cases and achieving this reduction could lead to a direct saving to the economy of over £13 million in terms of fewer days off work and NHS costs
Levels of campylobacter in chicken continue to decline and Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: ‘This has been achieved by working with the industry to tackle this difficult problem and raising consumer awareness. We commend the efforts of the larger retailers and the major processing plants who supply them, all of which have shown significant improvement and many have achieved the target we set to reduce the highest levels of campylobacter. They have invested a lot of effort and money into interventions to tackle the problem. But there is more to be done and our focus now is on encouraging the smaller retailers and processors, who generally haven’t met target levels, to follow the lead of the major players and we are considering how we can best help them and monitor their progress.’
The FSA is pressing the industry to play its part in reducing the levels of campylobacter contamination at each production stage to as low a level as possible before raw chicken reaches the supply chain.
Chicken is safe as long as good practice is followed:
Cover and chill raw chicken: Storing it on the bottom shelf of the fridge so juices cannot drip on to other foods and contaminate them.
Don’t wash raw chicken: Cooking will kill any bacteria present, including campylobacter, while washing chicken can spread germs by splashing.
Wash hands and used utensils: Thoroughly wash and clean all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken. Wash hands thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap and warm water, after handling raw chicken. This helps stop the spread of Campylobacter by avoiding cross-contamination.
Cook chicken thoroughly: Probe the chicken to ensure that it has reached a core temperature of either 70oC for 2 minutes or 75oC for 30 seconds.