Zoe Kay of Farmers Weekly writes that reducing human infection from campylobacter is the Food Standard Agency’s highest priority – and that means farmers through to supermarkets must play their part.
The reason, according to Javier Dominiguez Orive, deputy veterinary director at the FSA, is simple: Each year in the UK there are 460,000 cases of campylobacter food poisoning, 22,000 hospitalisations and 110 deaths, costing the NHS an estimated £540m.
“Birds from houses that are thinned are eight times more likely to be colonised at the end of the cycle,” Mary Howell, a senior scientific officer at the FSA told the conference. She pointed to the significant biosecurity risk that thinning presents, as well as the movement of modular crates. While these crates are routinely cleaned, this may not be done at a high enough temperature to kill the campy bug.
In addition to not thinning, Ms Howell also recommended sending evenly sized birds for slaughter by employing sexing and an effective culling-out policy as a way of potentially reducing campylobacter.
Veterinary consultant Jane Downes led a UK-wide on-farm project with the aim of demonstrating that biosecurity can work in controlling campylobacter.
While much of the problem of Campylobacter can be traced back to farms, slaughterhouse practices also play a major part.
Cross contamination by carcass washing is one issue and trial work using barbecue dust has investigated the effectiveness of different nozzle types and settings. A web-based tool has since been developed, allowing processors to learn which measures work for them and compare their performance with others.