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FSA to Set New Campylobacter Targets

March 10, 2016

In papers published ahead of its next board meeting on 16 March, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is proposing a new target aimed at cutting the number of campylobacter cases by 100,000 per year. Last month, as part of its ongoing retail survey, researchers found that campylobacter contamination had reduced from 74% of samples in 2014 to 59% a year later.

At next week’s meeting, the board will also propose that supermarkets publish the results of their own monitoring to save public funds stating; “Where we agree with retailers that their sampling, analysis and data reporting are robust, we will propose to remove them from the FSA retail survey and look to them to publish their own data in parallel. This delivers progress against our strategic objective of transparency in the food system, as well as reducing the amount of public funding that is needed to demonstrate retailer performance.” The measure could lead to retailers who do not comply or make ‘meaningful interventions’ being named and shamed.

Campylobacter is the largest cause of food borne illness in the UK with an estimated 280,000 cases every year. Despite their efforts though, the FSA failed to restrict the proportion of the most contaminated poultry to below their 10% target by the end of last year. The agency is also expected to announce that it will cut its budget for official controls and local authority support by over £4 million this year. Official controls will be cut by £3.2 million and local authority support reduced by £100,000.