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Poultry industry needs disinfecting

16 August 2006

100% contamination shows poultry industry needs disinfecting

The Green Party is calling for strict standards to force the poultry industry to clean up its act in the light of a study that shows 100 percent of chickens tested prior to slaughter were contaminated with campylobacter.

"How many more New Zealanders will fall victim to the present campylobacter epidemic before the Government will act? It cannot continue it ignore the evidence like that presented in the latest report from the Food Safety Authority, which outlines the problems in the poultry industry, Food Safety Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"I am shocked to find that the Poultry Industry Processing Standard covering the slaughtering and processing of chickens, is only mandatory for poultry exporters. Don't New Zealanders count? We must institute mandatory standards for the entire poultry industry.

"The link between chicken and campylobacter is well-established, but the lack of testing of chicken meat is allowing the industry to blame other sources for the contamination. At present chicken meat is only tested for salmonella and e-coli. This must be extended to include mandatory testing for campylobacter," Ms Kedgley says.

"This latest report, published this week, reveals that the Authority's own testing, carried out by ESR, found that every chicken tested during the slaughtering process was contaminated with campylobacter. The testers concluded that infection of the chickens was likely to have happened during transport to the slaughter house

The report identified a number of areas that could be significant sources of cross contamination including the transporting, slaughtering and packaging of chickens. This demonstrates the need for strategies to be put in place to reduce the risk in each of these areas.

"The Authority appears to have done little more conduct than study after study, and in fact has allowed the industry to review it's own processes instead of it taking the lead on behalf of the consumers it is supposed to represent.

"New Zealand is experiencing a campylobacter epidemic which is making up to 100,000 people sick and saw and put 871 hospitalised last year.

"Until this epidemic has been brought under control the Government must to consider implementing measures such as selling only frozen chicken or placing warning labels on chickens as called for by the World Health Organisation. This label would warn consumers of the risks associated with handling and consuming raw and undercooked poultry," Ms Kedgley says.

ENDS

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