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Rise in Campylobacter Food Poisoning

The number of campylobacter food poisoning cases has increased despite food safety expert’s campaign to reduce the risks from commercial raw poultry.

According to Public Health England, 42,147 people have suffered campylobacter poisoning in the first 35 weeks of 2015, revealing an increase of 1,064 cases in the same period of 2014.This news comes despite the FSA’s campaign to reduce these figures. Salmonella poisoning is the second biggest cause of food poisoning with 4,096 cases in the first 35 weeks of 2015.

Earlier in 2015 we wrote a series of blogs on Food Safety Week, which ran from the 18th-24th May. The Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) results from a 12 month survey into the quality of fresh chickens show the overall rate of contamination has increased from 70% in November 2014. We have since seen leading supermarkets battling this epidemic in order to provide consumers with safe food, and reduce the number of campylobacter cases arising from raw poultry.

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) state that up to 80% of campylobacter cases are caused by raw poultry. Campylobacter does not normally grow in food. However, it spreads easily as only a few bacteria in a piece of undercooked chicken, or bacteria that is transferred from raw chicken onto other ready-to-eat foods, can cause illness.

An FSA spokesperson stated, “The FSA acknowledges that human cases of campylobacteriosis remain high. Nevertheless, our Acting Together on Campylobacter campaign has achieved real traction with a number of retailers and processors.

“We are now seeing impactful interventions being implemented and would like all parts of industry to introduce these at scale. We now need to see the work done by industry reflected in our surveys. As levels of campylobacter on chickens fall, reductions on human illness will follow.”

In May 2015 we blogged on Asda’s fight with contaminated chicken, with the supermarket undertaking measures including steam cleaning their poultry and selling 50% of their chicken as a “roast in the bag” variety to minimise handling the raw meat and so reducing the risk of spreading the bacteria. In September 2015, Cargill announced that they would also be installing the SonoSteam technology and a partnership between BOC and Bernard Matthews will see further equipment used to tackle campylobacter in store-bought poultry.

When preparing raw chicken at home, it is recommended that you take the following precautions:

• Cover and chill raw chicken, storing it at the bottom of the fridge so that other foods cannot be affected by the juices.

• Don’t wash raw chicken, as this may spread germs whereas cooking will kill any present bacteria.

• Wash used utensils, to ensure the bacteria does not spread.

• Cook chicken thoroughly. You can check you’ve cooked chicken properly by ensuring there is not pink meat in the centre.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have secured compensation for many people who suffered from food poisoning in the UK and abroad caused by Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter, Hepatitis A virus and E. Coli.

For a free consultation call our No Win, No Fee Solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9046 or alternatively contact us online.

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