Campylobacter Reduction Plan – January 2018

In 2015 we announced our Campylobacter multi-intervention plan, touching all stages of the supply chain from farm to end consumer, which aimed to reduce campylobacter levels at each stage, and provide industry insight into the best ways to tackle this naturally occurring bacteria.

This was a £10m initiative, with contributions from our retail partners, into reducing campylobacter levels in poultry; far exceeding anything the sector had previously invested.

This plan is paying dividends and 2 Sisters are extremely proud to have played our part in significantly reducing the incidence of Campylobacter as reported in the latest FSA retail survey publication (published July 2017). Our downward trend, and contribution to the overall industry position, over the period of survey is clearly evident in the table below.

 

FSA Annual Retail Surveys

Campylobacter % >1,000 cfu /g

Total industry

2 Sisters

Year 1

19.4%

17.0%

Year 2

11.4%

11.0%

Year 3 (to July 2107)

6.5%

5.9%

Current 52 Week Rolling

 

2.4%

 

 

Nevertheless, we refuse to rest on our laurels and continue to invest heavily to reduce Campylobacter even further.  Our most recent investment of a further £5m sees even more innovative interventions being added to our processing sites to bolster the good work being undertaken on our farms.

Specifically, all our whole chickens receive a heat treatment by way of a technology called secondary scalding.  This process is proven to reduce Campylobacter on chicken skin. With the addition of further investment, these chickens now also receive a cold treatment, during the chilling phase, known as SafeChill.  This process freezes the skin of the chicken without freezing the underlying meat and is also proven to reduce Campylobacter on chicken.

Reducing Campylobacter requires activity throughout the food chain and so our farmers remain key to our plans. They all recognise their role and we continue to work with them, meeting groups to update them and share best practise. We also test every crop and share this information with the farmer and their vets so they can see their performance versus their peers driving continuous improvement. Some of the activities we are undertaking on farm include:

  • Extra cleaning of all our rearing farms between crops in September and October.
  • Investigation of failed boot sock sampling (tests conducted on farm to determine if Campylobacter is present in the growing houses).
  • Closer collaboration and co-ordination with the catching teams to ensure we minimise the risk of contamination from one farm to another.
  • Regular meetings between Agriculture and Processing, with a Campylobacter exclusive agenda, to review progress and initiate new ideas.

In addition to the measures we are taking throughout our supply chain, our ambitious plan to eradicate Campylobacter to the point it ceases to be a public health risk, is once again returning to research so we can get even better at controlling this complex organism. This is being achieved through discussions with key strategic academic partners and customers, seeking opportunities for further relevant research, to continue innovation of our sector and improve public health.

As you would expect, we routinely measure our birds for Campylobacter levels at all points of the supply chain.  The results of which, from the past twelve months, are summarised in the table below. 

 

Campylobacter tests >1,000 cfu / g

 

52 weeks

12 weeks

4 weeks

 

No. of tests

No. positive

%

No. of tests

No. positive

%

No. of tests

No. positive

%

Whole
 Chickens *

2387

79

3.3%

558

20

3.6%

232

8

3.4%

Portions

2969

62

2.1%

685

5

0.7%

212

1

0.5%

All Chicken **

 

 

2.4%

 

 

1.5%

 

 

1.4%

* FSA Protocol

** Weighted average to reflect market split of 30% whole birds, 70% portions