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Targets to tackle Campylobacter food poisoning

5 January 2011

The UK government and industry have together set a target to reduce the incidence of Campylobacter, the most common cause of bacterial food poisoning in the UK, in British poultry by 2015.

A survey carried out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in 2006-07 found that Campylobacter was present in 65% of the fresh chicken samples tested in the UK, just above levels seen across the EU, and is responsible for more than 300,000 cases of food poisoning and 15,000 hospitalisations per year in the UK.

The target is to reduce Campylobacter contamination on whole chickens in UK slaughterhouses and will be based on Campylobacter counts in individual chickens rather than overall prevalence in the birds because higher counts are associated with increased public health risks.

The paper is published on behalf of government and industry organisations involved with poultry production and retail such as Defra, the British Poultry Council, National Farmers' Union and the British Retail Consortium.

In 2010 the UK's main public funders of food safety research published a co-ordinated strategy 'UK Research and Innovation Strategy for Campylobacter − in the food chain 2010-2015', the first time organisations BBSRC, Defra, FSA, the Northern Ireland Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Scottish Government have agreed to a common set of objectives to tackle the problem.

More information on fighting Campylobacter food poisoning can be found on BBSRC's website.


  1. The joint government and industry target to reduce campylobacter in UK produced chickens by 2015 (external, PDF)
  2. Fighting Campylobacter food poisoning
  3. UK Research and Innovation Strategy for Campylobacter - in the food chain