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More should be done to stop Campylobacter

Chicken and Campylobacter

Food experts say that freezing chicken could reduce the risks of the potentially lethal Campylobacter bug – but shouldn’t the responsibility start with the poultry producers and supermarkets?

News of tackling Campylobacter levels in chicken has hit the headlines– in fact you’ll see our response on the front pages of two newspapers today.

This is because a microbiologist from Public Health England has said that freezing chickens that are found to be carrying the bacteria can reduce the level of contamination by up to 90%.

We think it’s a complete cop out to try to put responsibility on consumers to have to clean up poor practices caused earlier in the food supply chain. The Food Standards Agency (FSA), retailers and poultry producers need to make lowering Campylobacter levels a much greater priority. The poultry industry must also clean up its act and be more accountable and transparent.

Campylobacter levels per supermarket

Earlier this month we called on the FSA to publish the result of how the supermarkets performed in terms of the levels of Campylobacter in the chicken they sell. In this tweet, the FSA committed to publishing these results any day now:

We’re continuing to press the FSA for this data as we know it’s an issue you feel strongly about. Wavechange told us:

‘In the future it may be possible to overcome the problem by vaccinating chickens but in the meantime there is a lot that could be done to clean up the processing of poultry’

And Eleanor has shared her experience of contracting the bug:

‘I’ve just recovered from Campylobacter, but as a retired Biomedical Scientist I knew both the symptoms and the origin. I visited my GP, just to have the illness notified, as I waited until I was symptom free before I went. I have always been paranoid about chicken and if I could find someplace that sells polythene gloves, I would wear them when handling chicken.’

Around 60,000 people in the UK are hospitalised or in need or medical attention as a result of Campylobacter infections. Have you experienced the bug from food poisoning?

What would you like the supermarkets and food regulators to be doing to tackle the issue?


dt, some interesting information in this handbook. Reassuringly – I hope – virtually all our unprocessed chicken comes from within the EU (though isn’t that where horsemeat originated?). So are the EU tackling the problem effectively?
Perhaps more worrying is that of the 390 000 tonnes of processed chicken (which seems to be mechanically recovered chicken and a mixture of meat and skin) comes from outside the EU – primarily Thailand and and much smaller amount from Brazil.
So are these sources being checked – or the products retailed in the UK using processed chicken?


Are you reassured?

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Phthalic acid esters
Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins
Dibenzofurans (PCDDs and PCDFs),
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Organic phosphates

Oh! and once you’ve cooked the flesh in order to be edible You have nice powerful cancer-causing heterocyclic aromatic amines.

Poultry has some of the highest concentrations of these lovely toxins.



Quote: “You have nice powerful …… heterocyclic aromatic amines ….”.

In my day, you’d be facing a shotgun wedding for talking like that!


I have concerns about the timinig of the scare and the possibility of being bounced into a culture of drugs for chickens and vaccines. A simple search shows that despite the dangers of growing resistant strains Farmacy is intent on profit.

” Internal records examined by Reuters reveal that some of the nation’s largest poultry producers routinely feed chickens an array of antibiotics – not just when sickness strikes, but as a standard practice over most of the birds’ lives.
In every instance of antibiotic use identified by Reuters, the doses were at the low levels that scientists say are especially conducive to the growth of so-called superbugs, bacteria that gain resistance to conventional medicines used to treat people. Some of the antibiotics belong to categories considered medically important to humans.”
Reuters September 15th

[I wonder if we have TTIP we can share the benefits of US agricultural advances.]

Perhaps humans should accept that we are always going to get sick, we are always going to die, and given the huge amount of chickens eaten each year the overall “cost” is not excessive. To introduce drugs that may have unintended consequences, and procedures that add costs should be carefully weighed against the damage caused.


I’m not sure I would want to share agricultural advances with the US. I believe they introduced use of antibiotics in farming to boost yields. Scientists have been forewarning us of the dangers of misusing antibiotics in this way for decades. Making money is what matters in business, not the consequences of antibiotic resistance at some time in the future.

As I understand it, mass produced chickens carcasses are effectively bathed in dilute chicken faeces during processing, so that even birds that were not previously contaminated will be. We cannot rely on the birds being cleaned properly by handlers, often inexperienced, working under unpleasant conditions and on minimum wage. Then the chickens end up on the supermarket shelves, whether in one bag or two.

I believe that chickens should be reared in very much better conditions and not just processed in a way that encourages cross-contamination.

I do not want a panic but enough public reaction to tell our government and producers that action is needed now.



Epidemics of obesity, heart attacks, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis.

This is the excessive cost eating meat dairy and eggs and oils.

A simple message, don’t handle (except for your own pets), cook or eat birds!



GO VEGAN ….. and if you can’t BE a vegan …. EAT one.


There seems to be a consensus here that raw chicken on supermarket shelves is contaminated in one way or another.

What about the packaging itself and even the shelves?

We’ve all talked about handling the uncooked chicken back in own kitchens, but what do you do in the shop?

Do you pick it up from the shelf, put it in your trolley with other food?
Do you think your hands may be contaminated?

Should supermarkets provide disposable gloves and bins?

And …. of topic (again) … why don’t supermarkets have bins inside?


If anyone thought getting rid of Campylobacter might be to just have producers and retailers get their act