Morrisons announces significant progress in tackling campylobacter in whole chickens

orrisons announces significant progress in tackling campylobacter in whole chickens
Morrisons has announced a significant drop in the number of its whole chickens showing high levels of campylobacter. Testing results since the start of 2015 (Jan – April) show a level of just 2.3 per cent compared to 11.3 per cent during the same period last year. The new figure is significantly lower than the Food Standard Agency’s (FSA) industry target of 10.0 per cent (7.0 per cent in store).

The supermarket has been undertaking its own testing for more than a year and the results of those tests have been shared with and verified by the FSA.

Morrisons said: “We take food safety extremely seriously and are committed to reducing any risk to customers. We have looked at what really helps reduce campylobacter and we have made some significant changes including bringing in a new supplier.

“The results of our reduction programme are extremely encouraging but we are not complacent. There is still work to do. We will continue to work closely with the FSA and our suppliers to reduce the presence of campylobacter even further.”

Steve Wearne, FSA Director of Policy said: “This is very welcome news from Morrisons and goes to show that campylobacter levels on chicken can be significantly reduced by targeted interventions across the production process. People can be rightly pleased because the simple fact is that the less campylobacter there is on chicken the fewer people will get ill. I’m also pleased that Morrisons have indicated they are in this for the long term and we at the FSA will of course continue to work closely with Morrisons to ensure the levels of campylobacter on chicken reduce further.”

Morrisons has made the following changes:

A review of its whole bird business based on campylobacter reduction performance resulting in a new supplier being brought in
The development of a set of standards on chicken slaughter and preparation. Suppliers are regularly checked to ensure they meet that standard
The introduction of clearer consumer messaging on packaging for the handling and preparation of chickens, including a strong ‘Do not wash’ instruction
The introduction of roast in the bag whole chickens
One chicken supplier has introduced a scheme that incentivises farmers if their flocks are free from campylobacter
Investigating the use of new technologies with suppliers including rapid chilling and ultrasound
Morrisons is also represented on the board of ACT (Acting on Campylobacter Together), a collaboration across the industry designed to share initiatives and developments in tackling campylobacter.