Home Hygiene & Health
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March 11th: Cutting cases of Campylobacter infection in the UK

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) is considering introducing a corporate target to reduce the number of campylobacter infections by 100,000 within a year. 

An FSA board paper, which is due to be discussed later this month, says chicken currently poses a ‘significant threat to human health in the UK’. They say ‘To drive a continued focus on delivering human health impact, we propose a corporate objective for the end of March 2017, working in partnership with industry and others, of achieving a reduction in the incidence of laboratory confirmed cases of human campylobacteriosis that is equivalent to 100,000 fewer estimated cases of campylobacter per year,’ it states.

Campylobacter is the largest single cause of food-borne illness in the UK, with an estimated 280,000 cases a year. But the FSA has failed to meet a target to get the proportion of the most highly campylobacter-contaminated chicken below 10 per cent by the end of 2015.

The agency&;s latest quarterly survey ,which was published in February, shows 11 per cent of shop-brought fresh chicken have high levels of contamination and 59 per cent have lower levels.

CIEH says "Dr Lisa Ackerley, told EHN that contaminated chicken was getting into people’s homes, and possibly because of contaminated chicken packaging, on their hands during a shopping trip. ‘Until progress has been made to reduce the levels of contamination of chickens and their packaging there will continue to be a very real threat of householders poisoning themselves,’ she said. Dr Ackerley, who is also deputy chair of the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene, said there needed to be more of a focus on the risks of cross-contamination in the home. ‘Because of the current high risk of householders having a contaminated chicken in their kitchen, and because of the low infectious dose of the organism, if we want to reach this target for reduction of incidents, then I think it is time for clear

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