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Campy makes 500,000 ill

Corin Williams23/09/2011 - 14:00

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Food safety - food business
Food safety - food business

The Food Standards Agency has reissued calls to tackle the high incidence of campylobacter found on raw chicken after revealing the bacteria causes around 500,000 illnesses in the UK every year.

The estimated figure last year stood at 300,000 cases when the FSA identified campylobacter as a food safety priority in its Foodborne Disease Strategy.

The biggest research into infectious intestinal diseases (IID) for 10 years was published by the FSA earlier this month. It was found that campylobacter was the main cause of bacterial IID. Recent surveys have also revealed that two-thirds of chicken samples on sale in the UK were contaminated with the bacteria.

Chief scientist Andrew Wadge said: ‘The study shows the FSA is correct to make campylobacter a key priority in its strategic plan. We know that levels of campylobacter on chicken are far too high in the UK, which is why we are working closely with the food industry to bring these levels down.’

The FSA is also funding research on norovirus, which was found by the IID study to affect one in four people in the UK every year. Of those falling ill, half were forced to take time off school or work.

Lead researcher Prof Sarah O’Brien said: ‘It’s easy to dismiss diarrhoea and vomiting as a trivial illness, but this study reinforces just how many people’s lives are affected, and shows the impact public health policy should continue to be directed at preventing diarrhoea and vomiting by promoting good personal and food hygiene.’


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