Sir, Two weeks ago the FSA published findings from our latest research, which shows consumers want retailers and processors to do more to tackle campylobacter. The timing has reportedly ruffled some feathers in the industry (‘Reading between the lines of the latest FSA campylobacter report’, thegrocer.co.uk, 22 August) but I can assure you there was no hidden agenda.
Our survey and the challenging target we have agreed with industry were designed not only to provide an impetus for action but give a voice to consumers. The recent report is consistent with these objectives and releasing it now, just as we begin testing for our new survey, is entirely logical.
In 2014 almost all the major retailers signed up to a pledge to meet the target, then take steps to ensure campylobacter on chicken is no longer a serious public health issue. We are the first to acknowledge the progress many in the industry have made, helping bring the highest level of contamination down from 19% to 11% in two years. Helping consumers understand the risks, working with producers and retailers, setting targets for reduction, sharing knowledge, pushing everybody to find new ways of doing things, we have together reduced campylobacter to a level many said wasn’t possible five years ago. However, we all need to go further.
No new targets are being discussed, as some have suggested. As the editorial in The Grocer acknowledges, the findings from our research are compelling so rather than question our motives in releasing it, retailers and processors should be looking at how they can respond to consumers and build on the progress achieved so far.
Steve Wearne, FSA director of policy