Sir: I read with great interest the article by Dr Clive Black on the FSA’s approach to dealing with camopylobacter (‘What bugs me about campylobacter,’ 28 November, p21). It was also excellent that Steve Wearne, FSA director of policy, penned a strong rebuttal (‘Black blast at campylobacter tactics bugs me!’ 5 December, p23).
To me, there remain a number of key issues. I believe many cases of campylobacteriosis are caused by poor hygiene in foodservice and in the home kitchen.
As for the FSA ‘don’t wash raw chicken’ campaign, having talked with quite a few people about this, not that many seem to really understand the message. There must be a concerted campaign to get the public to understand that improper storage, preparation and undercooking of poultry are likely to lead to illness.
In relation to foodservice, there is a currently wasted opportunity with the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme to introduce some form of sampling/testing for incidence of campylobacter contamination in the fridges, work surfaces and walls of those premises that score lowly. To my mind, if you are getting less than a four-star rating you are less likely to work to the standards needed to prevent campylobacter poisoning. Perhaps a challenge to the FSA to prove me wrong on this one?
I am glad the FSA is taking this important issue seriously, but it is still targeting a single cause of the problem. The only way to really get on top on the problem for once and for all is to adopt the ‘farm to fork’ approach - everyone who produces, sells and eats poultry must play a role.
Professor Chris Elliott, director, Institute of Global Food Security