All chickened out?

During the past week The Guardian has launched a campaign to uncover alleged food hygiene breaches at various factories, contributing to a rise in cases of Campylobacter outbreaks in the UK. Full details of their findings are available from their online site, but in summary the newspaper blames industry for the need to take extra hygiene precautions: 

“It’s worth remembering that every time we wash down a chopping board we as consumers are being expected to clean up the mess the industry has made of our food.”

Chicken wings

According to figures released by the FSA  reported in the Telegraph in 2013, the estimated number of food borne illness cases a year is 500,00, of which 280,000 are thought to be caused by Campylobacter – 72,000 of these were later confirmed by laboratory reports. Although investigations into the full impact of this bacteria are ongoing, it causes an estimated 100 deaths a year, 34,000 subsequent consultations with a doctor and costs the NHS £900 million.

The long and short of this summary? Campylobacter remains the top foodborne disease in this country and poultry is the food item most closely associated with this bacteria. The suggestion that the figures are rising and that 2/3 of our chickens are infected has yet to be proved correct by the FSA, but it remains true to say that this bacterium is and should be a serious concern to all those working in the food industry. 

Campylobacter is the most common cause of diarrhoea in the UK with most cases being caused by the type C. jejuni. Although the species does not grow in food, illness can be caused by contamination with even very small numbers of the pathogen from eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water and contact with animals. Usual symptoms are very severe abdominal pain, diarrhoea, headaches and nausea which can continue for up to 7 days. Controls for preventing the spread of the contagion include the following:

  • Cook poultry thoroughly;
  • Avoid cross-contamination from raw poultry to other foods;
  • Keep animals and birds away from food, including bottled milk;
  • Wash hands after dealing with pets.

Lagarde pilot retort

Lagarde retorts have long been trusted to safely process meat pastes and spreads for UK branded companies and for producers of own-label goods, with a wide range of EU and UK reference sites.  If you have any concerns over traceability, safe processing or new product development work, please get in touch to discuss your requirements in confidence on 01780 749097 or info@holmach.co.uk. 

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