The chicken industry has broadly accepted the FSA’s decision that 70% of retail chicken is contaminated with Campylobacter.
However, farmers and processors are worried about the FSA’s target of reducing this by 50% within five years.
While yet to consult with members, British Poultry Council chief executive Peter Bradnock said the proposed baseline, which is subject to consultation until November 3, appeared to be reasonable.
However, the 50% reduction target identified in the FSA’s 2005-2010 plan was ambitious, he warned, and would need further scientific research.
Bradnock added: “A lot of the measures [to prevent infection] are not practical on working poultry farms.”
A spokesman for the NFU said there was confusion over the spread of the bacteria at farm level, and said trials were under way with the aim of minimising its presence. “We are committed to working within the industry to at least seek to reduce it,” the spokesman said.
NFU poultry chairman Charles Bourns was directly involved with the FSA programme, he added.
The FSA’s proposed baseline, which it will use to monitor attempts to reduce incidence of Campylobacter in British chickens, is based on evidence from a variety of sources.
FSA studies in 2001 found Campylobacter in 44% of chickens in retail stores in England and Wales, rising to 76% for Scotland and Northern Ireland. The variation is thought to be attributable to different testing methods.