Failure To Make Chicken Farming Changes ‘Putting Consumers At Risk’

Government Food Safety Adviser Claims Changes Could Reduce Potentially Fatal Infections

05.10.2015

A Government food safety adviser has claimed that supermarkets are reluctant to implement new packaging measures for chicken products that would reduce the frequency of infections due to the increase in price the measures will bring.

According to Professor Chris Elliott, who led the recent inquiry into the use of horsemeat in ready meals, vital safety measures would increase costs by 10p per bird.

Recent studies conducted by the Food Standards Agency found almost a fifth of chickens sold in supermarkets are contaminated with campylobacter, one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the UK.

Studies indicated that chicken farm staff may be infecting birds with campylobacter by bringing it into the sheds on their clothing and machinery when removing smaller birds from the chicken sheds.

Professor Elliott, speaking to The Times, said stopping this practice would increase the cost of chickens in the supermarket by 10p per bird, which he described as “well worth paying for the British public to get much safer food”.

Amandeep Dhillon, an expert public health lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, who has experience representing those affected by the long-term illness problems campylobacter can cause, said:

Expert Opinion
Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK and it is imperative every possible step is taken to reduce its prevalence in products sold in the UK.

"Consumers place their faith in food manufacturers and retailers and expect that the products they are picking off the shelves are suitable for consumption. Studies have shown that all too often products on the shelves are contaminated and that consumers are suffering with the impact of the illnesses this type of bacteria can cause.

"The importance of addressing the issue of campylobacter in chickens should not be downplayed and consumers need to be reassured that everything possible is being done to tackle the issue and to prevent them from being exposed to serious risk.
Amandeep Dhillon, Partner