Morrisons Campylobacter results for the whole of 2015 below the 7% FSA target

Bradford, England, 2015-11-13 — /EPR Retail News/ — Since 2013 we have been working hard to reduce Campylobacter levels in fresh chicken. We have introduced a Campylobacter reduction plan which, following independent tests has shown significant improvements year on year. Our results for the whole of 2015 are below the 7% FSA target.

We understand that campylobacter can be a concern when it comes to fresh chicken. However there are simple steps you can take to minimise the risk of food poisoning. Do not wash poultry, use separate utensils and surfaces for raw and cooked foods and ensuring poultry is thoroughly cooked.

At Morrisons we have listened to the concerns about high levels of campylobacter found on some fresh chickens and since 2013 we have made significant progress in tackling campylobacter throughout our supply chain.

The facts

Campylobacter is a common bacteria found on raw chicken

Campylobacter is destroyed if chicken is cooked thoroughly

As a bacteria, xampylobacter can be transferred on to any surface that raw chicken contacts

Food Standards Agency (FSA) advice is don’t wash raw chicken

Information about campylobacter and food safety can be found on the FSA website http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/campaigns/campylobacter

What we’ve achieved

We have worked with our suppliers to introduce a detailed Campylobacter Action Plan which has successfully reduced campylobacter levels on fresh chicken.

We have established our own monitoring program, carried out by an independent accredited laboratory, which has been in place since 2013. Our tests are based on a larger sample size than the FSA survey and results show levels of campylobacter steadily reducing.

As a result of our Campylobacter Action Plan we have seen a consistent reduction in campylobacter levels and significant year on year improvement. This year our results show that on average only 4.8% of chickens tested have the higher levels of contamination compared to the FSA retail target of 7%

We are working closely with the FSA and regularly provide updates on our own results and performance

What’s next?

While the results of our reduction programme are extremely encouraging we are not complacent and we will continue to work closely with the FSA and our suppliers to reduce the presence of campylobacter even further.

Morrisons Campylobacter Action Plan 2015

From the farm to your kitchen, we have studied the journey of fresh chicken and introduced range of measures to combat campylobacter.

At the farm

1. Every farm supplying Morrisons with chicken is audited to ensure improved levels of Bio-security are in place. The farms are audited frequently to ensure compliance and to drive continuous improvements. Additionally enhanced levels of Bio-security training for Farm and Catching teams have also been implemented across our supply base.

2. A program of improved modernised design is being implemented for farm buildings to enhance bio security – this is a long term continuous process

3. Morrisons is trialling financial incentives for farmers who keep their flocks free from Campylobacter.

4. Morrisons continue to investigate the effect of not thinning on a number of supplying farms (thinning is the selective removal of birds during the growing cycle) – the process of thinning potentially impacts on bio-security).

Processing

1. Morrisons is committed to only use suppliers with demonstrable Campylobacter reduction plans. One of our suppliers has invested £25m in recent months.

2. Morrisons has developed its own ‘Slaughterhouse Campylobacter Best Practice Standard’ and have audited all our whole bird suppliers against it. This systematically reviews evisceration and carcase washing standards in the slaughterhouse to drive continuous improvement across our supply base.

3. Process innovation is being implemented across our supply base for example:

  • a. Our major chicken supplier has just installed a Sonosteam system. This steam/ ultrasound system has been scientifically proven to significantly reduce Campylobacter levels.
  • b. In December our other main supplier is installing a secondary scalding process which has been scientifically proven to significantly reduce Campylobacter levels.
  • c. Our main supplier has installed UV equipment to further reduce the risk of Campylobacter being present on the whole bird packaging.

4. Morrisons are working with its key suppliers on other processing interventions including, Rapid Surface Chilling.

5. A programme of improvements has been driven in factory process flows and handling procedures, to better segregate product and sealed packs to minimise the possibility of the outside of our packs being cross contaminated with Campylobacter.

Packaging

1. Our robust Food Messaging on pack informs the customer:

  • Do not wash poultry
  • Store raw meat covered at the bottom of the fridge
  • Use separate utensils and surfaces for raw and cooked foods or wash thoroughly in between use
  • Wash hands after handling raw meat and poultry
  • Unwrap and dispose of packaging carefully

2. We have robust packaging on our poultry products to minimise the risks of cross contamination in store or at home

3. For customers who prefer not to directly handle the chicken we have introduced cook in the bag chickens across half of our range

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SOURCE: Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc

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