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article imageUK's Tesco aggressively battling Campylobacter in poultry

By Karen Graham     Jul 21, 2015 in Food
United Kingdom retailer, Tesco, has made some of the biggest advances among UK supermarkets in reducing Campylobacter levels in store-bought chicken. Campylobacter contamination of chicken products is a major problem in the country.
On May 30, Digital Journal reported on a one-year study conducted by an agency of the British government (the Food Standards Agency — FSA.) that found 73 percent of fresh chicken sold in food stores in the UK was contaminated with the Campylobacter bacterium.
Back in March, the food standards agency reported that 19 percent of the chicken products tested in the year-long study had dangerously high levels of Campylobacter. The agency equated the high levels to the 280,000 people who become ill every year and the estimated 100 who die.
At that time, Chief executive of the FSA, Catherine Brown asked for greater support from major retailers in combating the food-borne illness causing bacterium because the agency felt major retailers weren't handing over research on how widespread the bacterium really was.
But now it seems Tesco, one of the UK's largest supermarket chains, has taken the bull by the horns. Tesco is pledging to reduce Campylobacter rates, and is setting aggressive targets for its suppliers. On July 15, Tesco posted a news release detailing their plans.
Working to reduce industry-wide problems with Campylobacter contamination, the retailer has set a new target for levels of the bacteria. According to the news release, "From 2017, suppliers who provide poultry to Tesco will work with the retailer to meet a new specification which will see the numbers of chicken contaminated by Campylobacter at the highest level fall to five per cent. This will be the first time a retailer has made its specification so challenging."
Tesco currently requires that safe-handling instructions and proper cooking procedures be displayed on all fresh chicken packages. The move by the supermarket chain comes after Tesco was found to be the only major supermarket to have consistently lower rates than the industrial average of Campylobacter contaminated chicken, according to the FSA.
More about UK retailer, campylobacter, Chicken, new target, Food poisoning
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