More action on campylobacter needed, say consumers


Consumers want the food industry to continue action to tackle campylobacter on chickens, according to new research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The findings show that two thirds (66%) of consumers think the industry should continue to reduce campylobacter beyond the agreed current target of less than 10% of chickens at the most highly contaminated level. Retailers should also be telling customers what proportion of chickens are at this highest level of contamination, according to 75% of those questioned.

The research has been released to coincide with the resumption this month of the FSA’s campylobacter survey, part of its ongoing efforts to reduce the high levels of food poisoning caused by the bug. Testing was suspended in April so the agency could update the way the survey was carried out to ensure results continued to be robust.

Steve Wearne, director of policy at the FSA, says, “Publishing surveillance data on campylobacter has prompted action from retailers and processors and we are now seeing progress. Our campaign has also raised awareness of campylobacter amongst the public and it is good to see from our research that it is customers, and not just the FSA, demanding action and information from retailers. We have always said that consumer power will ultimately push industry action.

“Many retailers and processors should be commended for the action they have taken so far.  The majority signed up to the pledge to ensure that campylobacter in chicken ceases to be a significant public health issue, and continued action will be needed to deliver this.”

The FSA’s research shows that 76% of people questioned want retailers to be more proactive in telling them what actions they are taking to reduce the campylobacter levels on the raw chicken they sell. More than half of people (53%) said that they would start buying chicken from another retailer if their usual shop was found to sell more than the industry average ‘high risk’ chicken.

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