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Tesco to further reduce the levels of Campylobacter in its fresh chicken

  • Tesco, with suppliers, is committed to minimising levels of Campylobacter by 2017
  • Tesco has consistently been the only major supermarket with a significantly lower level of Campylobacter in its chicken compared to the industry average

CHESHUNT, England, 2015-7-16 — /EPR Retail News/ — Tesco has today pledged to further reduce the levels of Campylobacter in its fresh chicken. Building on the progress made in recent years, working in partnership with its suppliers to tackle the industry-wide issue, the retailer has set a new target for levels of the bacteria.

From 2017, suppliers who provide poultry to Tesco will work with the retailer to meet a new specification which will see the numbers of chicken contaminated by Campylobacter at the highest level fall to five per cent. This will be the first time a retailer has made its specification so challenging.

Although Campylobacter is destroyed by thorough cooking, and all raw poultry sold by the retailer displays safe handling information on packaging, as well as cooking instructions to promote correct cooking procedures, the retailer wants to provide customers with the safest possible chicken.

The move comes after Tesco was found to be the only major supermarket to have consistently lower rates of chicken contaminated with the bacteria than the industry average, according to the Food Standards Agency  (FSA) year-long retail survey of poultry to monitor Campylobacter levels.

Tesco’s Group Quality Director Tim Smith said: ‘Providing high quality, safe food is always our absolute priority. It has long been our commitment to reduce levels of Campylobacter in our poultry and we are now seeing real progress at all stages of the supply chain, in tackling the issue through the work we have done with our suppliers.

‘We want to remain at the forefront of any developments to improve the quality and safety of our chicken and believe that interventions, which are currently being trialled across the industry, will enable levels to be reduced even further.  We have therefore agreed with our suppliers that by 2017, at least 95% of chickens supplied to Tesco will have minimal levels of Campylobacter in line with the new limits that we are including in our specification.

‘Whilst we acknowledge that there isn’t a single solution to address Campylobacter, we are confident that we will deliver this target.’

In recent years, Tesco has worked closely on a number of initiatives with poultry suppliers to improve the safety of fresh chicken for customers, including:

  • The development of biosecurity standards which are now widely used across the industry
  • Funding the first farmer incentive programme which rewards farmers who keep their flocks free of Campylobacter
  • Working with producers to examine the impact of stocking densities on the incidence of the microorganism
  • Funding the development of best practice guidelines on the handling of chickens during processing
  • Introducing measures to minimise the incidence of contamination on the outside of packaging in 2011
  • We are developing our own processing standard against which all of our suppliers will be independently audited

Ursula Lavery, Moy Park Technical Director said: ‘Reducing Campylobacter remains a top priority for Moy Park.

‘We have been delivering industry leading work in this area and are totally committed to building on the successes we have already achieved in recent trials and through our supply chain interventions.’



Notes to Editors

  • Tesco’s new specification will require that Campylobacter will not be present at the highest level of >1000 cfu per gram in at least 95% of whole chickens on its shelves
  • Tesco updated its chicken packaging at the end of last year to ensure food safety messaging was more prominent and will continue to look for ways to raise awareness amongst customers about safe handling practices.
  • In 2014 the supermarket sponsored an industry wide event to review progress and enhance collaboration which led to the establishment of the ACT Board.
  • Tesco is the only one of the main retailers which has a lower incidence of chicken contaminated with Campylobacter at the highest level (>1000 cfu/g), compared to the industry average.
  • Moy Park is a leading provider of fresh, locally farmed poultry in the UK and Ireland and is one of the largest producers of organic, free range and corn fed poultry in Europe. Moy Park supplies leading retailers and foodservice providers throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe with a range of high-quality, fresh, coated and added value poultry products.

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