Asda pledges commitment to combat Campylobacter

Asda pledges commitment to combat Campylobacter

  • Implementation of a steam process, ‘SonoSteam’ proving to reduce Campylobacter by more than 80%
  • Asda is the first supermarket to implement an in line solution as it switches SonoSteam process to 30% of its whole birds
  • Significant investment made into end to end initiatives including farmer incentives, new processing trials and packaging solutions

Asda today announced its Campylobacter Combat Plan, which sets out its farm to store initiatives to help reduce levels of Campylobacter in its whole chickens. The retailer is working on a number of trials to tackle the issue and is optimistic the levels can be reduced with a steam process – SonoSteam – which is showing an 80% reduction in numbers on both the neck and breast skin.

SonoSteam kills Campylobacter on the skin of chickens through simultaneous application of both steam and ultrasound which takes 1.5 seconds per bird. Trials have been on-going at Faccenda Foods since installation in December and early results show an impressive 80% reduction. This is now being rolled out full time in June.

Rebecca Lythe, Asda’s chief compliance officer said: “We have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to find an effective solution to tackling Campylobacter, and we are confident that SonoSteam will have a significant impact on reducing levels and ultimately protecting our customers.

“But, we haven’t just stopped there. We are committed to doing the right thing and have invested in a number of other trials from farm to shelf. These include No- Thin farm trial and secondary scalding during processing. We are also rolling out our multi award-winning Roast in a Bag range to 50% of our whole chickens, introducing innovative packaging to the rest of our ranges, and revising our distribution and store procedures. As always, the key message is to cook your chicken thoroughly and we have ensured our labelling clearly states not to wash chicken.”

Asda works with two main chicken suppliers, 2 Sisters and Faccenda Foods, and it has chosen to take positive action by investing in trials across its whole supply chain to enable it to find a solution as quickly as possible.

Alongside SonoSteam, Asda is investing in a No Thin trial with 2 Sisters, which means farmers don’t thin out the flocks of chickens through their natural growing cycle, which it is thought can impact on Campylobacter levels.

Asda has led the industry with its award-winning Roast in a Bag range, which takes away the need for shoppers to touch the raw bird and can instead be put straight into the oven in its sealed packaging. This not only results in a deliciously moist roast chicken, but stops the potential spread of bugs around the kitchen. Roast in a Bag currently makes up 50% of its total range and Asda anticipates up to 75% of sales will come from Roast in Bag over the next 18 months, in response to customer demand. The remaining whole birds will be re-launched in October 2015 with industry leading barrier film packaging, which significantly reduces leakages as well as keeping the bird fresher for longer.

In addition to these trials, Asda has invested in revising and re-briefing procedures in all fresh food depots, and has re-briefed store colleagues to ensure a consistent handling process.
Asda remains committed to ensuring its end to end Campylobacter Combat Plan is leading the way in finding a robust and sustainable solution to reducing levels of Campylobacter in its chickens. And while Asda is confident in its refreshed plan, it is also engaging with an independent expert to carry out a full review of the plan and to assess early trial results.

Asda’s Campylobacter Combat Plan

· No Thin trial
· Farmer incentives
· Revision of agricultural practices
(Commitment to enhanced biosecurity standards; Double barrier system; stringent audit testing and updated training schemes)

· SonoSteam
· Trial of secondary scald intervention
· Hygiene and processing improvements

Store (Depot)
· Revised depot and store procedures
· Review of store cleaning programme
· Increased testing at store
· Increased product inspections at depot

· Roast in Bag packaging increased to 50%
· Impermeable barrier film packaging for remaining 50% by October
· Industry approved on pack labelling
· Supporting the FSA on Food Safety Week
· Food safety information available on Asda’s website