National Food Safety Week is a chance to highlight the dangers present in the food we buy. Which? is calling on supermarkets to be more transparent about their testing and food safety controls.
Campylobacter isn’t an easy word to say, but the dangers of contaminated chicken are very easy to understand. Hundreds of thousands of us fall victim to food poisoning every year, often because of Campylobacter in our chicken.
Half of chickens contaminated
You may recall that we previously campaigned to Make Chicken Safe, calling on supermarkets to up their standards to bring down potentially lethal levels of Campylobacter. And we saw some positive improvements with some retailers significantly reduce levels of Campylobacter.
While we decided to close this campaign at the end of last year, we continue to push for further improvements. Well what better time than in National Food Saftey Week to send a letter to the UK’s supermarkets, calling for improvements to transparency to help shoppers make more informed choices:
The start of the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) National Food Safety Week is a timely opportunity to highlight that Campylobacter continues to be the main cause of food poisoning in the UK and needs to be tackled. The FSA estimates there are around a quarter of a million cases each year.
While you and other supermarkets have demonstrated that it is possible to put measures in place across the production chain to reduce Campylobacter in chickens, levels remain unacceptably high. Around half of chickens are still contaminated and people continue to fall ill as a result.
We have now reached a vital cross-road in the ongoing fight against this potentially deadly bug. We believe it is time for much greater transparency from retailers about your own testing and the extent to which the controls put in place are proving effective.
The FSA’s target and its retail survey have been fundamental to keeping the focus on reducing levels of contamination. But this survey costs the FSA three quarters of a million pounds a year. While the Agency pauses to review its approach and methodology, we’re calling on retailers to shoulder greater responsibility and pro-actively publish information about your own test results.
If done in line with FSA protocols, this would provide consumers with a fair way of assessing your progress compared to other retailers. It would also show your level of commitment to your customers by reducing the chances that they could be affected by this bug.
Which? is a firm believer in the testing and future monitoring of Campylobacter in chickens and we have been very vocal in our support for reducing levels to give consumers reassurance that the chicken they buy is safe to eat.
I look forward to meeting with you and discussing this in more detail.
Director of Policy, Campaigns and Communications
Supermarkets need to do more
The FSA is doing what it can, but supermarkets must also step up to the plate, they too have a huge role to play in controlling contamination and informing their customers about potential risks.
Do you have concerns about the contamination levels found in supermarket chickens? Would more transparency about food testing change the way you shop?