CIEH response to the Guardian’s article: “Dirty secrets of the UK poultry industry”

Publication Date: 25th July 2014

Subject: Food safety

The CIEH has today responded to the article that first appeared online on the Guardian’s website on Wed 23 July.

The Guardian’s findings were that two-thirds of fresh retail chicken in the UK was contaminated with campylobacter which had prompted investigations at three major supermarkets. Despite this the government had shelved plans to name and shame suppliers.

CIEH principal policy officer, Jenny Morris, MBE, said: ‘Campylobacter reduction on fresh chicken is a key target for the Food Standard Agency and industry, due to the potential health impacts. There is no easy fix to reduce levels, as there was for Salmonella in eggs.’

Campylobacter (meaning "curved bacteria") is frequently found in raw meat, particularly chicken, and is a significant cause of food poisoning due to the handling of raw meat or of undercooking it.

Jenny Morris concluded: ‘Strict hygienic controls are needed all along the food chain and the processing stage will be critical to the level of contamination that reaches the supermarkets. Action is being taken but if there is deliberate failure to follow the hygiene rules it lets everyone who is doing their best down. Improving the transparency of standards achieved is needed, so naming and shaming alongside naming and praising would be a useful tool. It must of course represent the true picture.’

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About the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH): 

  • The CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing over 10,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved
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