Food Standards Agency
Up to one third of people at risk from campylobacter food poisoning during their lifetime
New figures from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) suggest that up to a third of the population could contract food poisoning from campylobacter, a bug most commonly found on raw chicken, during their lifetime. The figure is based on the current infection rates of more than a quarter of a million people per year.
Campylobacter is most frequently found on raw poultry and is the biggest cause of food poisoning in the UK. The FSA has released the figure to mark the start of 2015’s Food Safety Week and the launch of the ‘Chicken Challenge’ – its call to the whole food chain, from industry to consumers, to do their bit to halve the number of campylobacter food poisoning cases by the end of 2015.
Over a quarter of a million people in the UK – an estimated 280,000 – currently fall ill with campylobacter food poisoning per year. Depending on people’s lifestyle and diet the FSA estimates that campylobacter will affect up to one third of people during their lifetimes. Research has shown that reducing the numbers of the most highly contaminated birds would reduce the public health risk by around 50%, saving thousands of people a year from falling prey to a painful form of food poisoning which, in some cases, can result in paralysis.
The FSA has been leading the industry on reducing campylobacter contamination and is currently conducting a year-long survey looking at the levels of campylobacter on fresh whole chilled retail chickens and their packaging. In partnership with farmers and producers, through to caterers and retailers, all parts of the food chain have been working to meet the 2015 target.
Nina Purcell, Director at the FSA, said: 'More than a quarter of a million people – 280,000 – fall ill each year due to campylobacter food poisoning, and the FSA has been working hard to get industry to reduce that number by cutting the level of contamination on shop-bought chickens. This Food Safety Week, we’re taking that one step further by asking the public to take the ‘Chicken Challenge’ and pledge to take action to help protect themselves. At the moment, up to a third of us could fall ill with campylobacter at some point in our lives. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to reduce that figure.
'If everyone lives up to their promises – the FSA, consumers, and the industry – then this really can happen, hugely reducing the number of people who get ill every year.'
The Food Safety Week ‘Chicken Challenge’ is asking people who eat chicken to promise to take the following steps to protect themselves and their families:
- store raw chicken separately from other food, covered and chilled on the bottom shelf of the fridge
- not to wash raw chicken as it splashes germs
- wash everything that’s touched raw chicken in soap and hot water, including hands and utensils
- check chicken is cooked properly until it’s steaming hot throughout with no pink meat and the juices run clear
You can make the pledge at www.food.gov.uk/chickenchallenge
Consumer poll data
Raw meat consumer poll (356.42 KB) For Food Safety Week 2015
Chicken habits consumer poll (30.90 KB) For Food Safety Week 2015
Latest News from
Food Standards Agency
Views wanted on Chia seeds by 25 August 201716/08/2017 12:10:00
A company has applied to the FSA for chia seeds to be approved for use in the European Union (EU) under the simplified approval procedure.
Update on Fipronil in eggs08/08/2017 09:10:00
Following concerns raised in the Netherlands about a substance called Fipronil which has been used inappropriately in cleaning products on chicken farms, we have identified that a very small number of eggs have been distributed to the UK from the farms affected. Fipronil is not authorised for use as a veterinary medicine or pesticide around food producing animals.
EFSA searching for scientific experts05/08/2017 07:15:00
EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has invited scientists with expertise in food and feed safety related issues to apply to join its ten Scientific Panels and its Scientific Committee. The call for experts closes on 8 September 2017.
FSA publishes the list of incidents for April to June 201703/08/2017 12:41:00
The FSA yesterday published a summary of food incidents handled between April and June 2017, where an alert has been issued by the FSA to recall products from sale.