Working with the UK food industry to tackle campylobacter has been identified by the country’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) as its key priority for the next five years in recently published proposals.

The FSA’s Foodborne Disease Strategy, a roadmap for reducing all types of food poisoning in the UK by 2015, says that the increased prevalence of campylobacter is the biggest challenge for food safety.

The most recent study by the agency showed that 65% of raw shop-bought chicken was contaminated with campylobacter. An estimated 300,000 cases of food poisoning are attributed to campylobacter every year in England and Wales alone.

The FSA’s proposed action on campylobacter includes:

  • working closely with the UK food industry to trial new intervention measures on farm, in slaughterhouses and at retail level;
  • setting a new target for reducing the levels of campylobacter by 2015; and
  • helping to ensure people can protect themselves from infection with campylobacter by making sure they are aware of the need to avoid cross-contamination when handling raw chicken and to cook chicken thoroughly.