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Poultry Industry Continues Focus on Campylobacter

11 June, 2008
Poultry Industry Continues Focus on Campylobacter

The poultry industry is continuing its efforts to further ensure New Zealanders can remain confident about the quality of the chicken they eat.

Poultry Industry Association Executive Director Michael Brooks said the industry was very pleased that its successful partnership with the New Zealand Food Safety Authority over the past 18 months had been recognised by the Food Safety Minister Lianne Dalziel at Fieldays earlier today.

“The joint programme we’ve worked on with the Food Safety Authority has lifted our industry from a good mid-table performer to among the world leaders in preventing the occurrence and detection of Campylobacter on raw chicken,” says Mr Brooks.

“That programme brought about a complete review of our processes from the farm to the retailers’ shelves, and we have no doubt the effectiveness of that programme is a significant contributor to the major drops we are seeing in reported Campylobacter cases and detection rates on our raw products.

“We also believe our industry can contribute further improvements once we finalise arrangements with our retail customers to also carry out their packaging, and we continue to support the ongoing focus by the NZFSA and the Ministry of Health (MOH) on safe food handling practices in the home.”

Mr Brooks said that while it was always difficult to pin down the exact causes of reported Campylobacter cases, it was accepted that in the past chicken was one of the common causes of such infections.

“However, the new standards set by the NZFSA and the enhanced farming, transport, processing and packaging processes we’ve worked on as an industry have contributed to significantly lower prevalence rates and bacteria counts on our raw chickens.

“Internationally, we are now getting requests from poultry industries in other countries to ask how we have been so successful in reducing Campylobacter presence on our products.”

Mr Brooks said the 18-month programme developed by his members and the NZFSA had enhanced biosecurity and poultry handling practices on-farm to greatly reduce the potential for introduction of Campylobacter infections to healthy bird populations.

“There has also been a real focus on the practices for catching, transporting and cleaning and drying of transport crates when birds are taken to the plants. This was an area identified as a key target to again reduce the possibility of cross infection or the introduction of infections to healthy birds.

“The spin-chill process in plants was another focus, with some of members investing in new technology, and all our members reviewing and enhancing their cleaning, testing and monitoring regimes.”

Mr Brooks said with New Zealanders eating more than 34 kilograms of chicken per head per year, the joint efforts of the NZFSA and the Poultry Industry should give consumers further confidence they were eating a safe, nutritious, value-for-money protein source.


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