Acting on Campylobacter Together

Acting on Campylobacter Together is a campaign to bring together the whole food chain to reduce levels of campylobacter in chicken and to reduce the burden of foodborne illness in the UK. Read the pledge. Join us.

A quarter of a million people

Do you remember the London 2012 opening ceremony and the Olympic stadium filled to bursting point with spectators? Now, try to envisage that huge crowd multiplied by three. You can do the same with Murrayfield in Edinburgh and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. With Windsor Park in Belfast, try multiplying the crowd nine times over.

That’s about a quarter of a million people. That’s how many people in the UK could be struck down by campylobacter this year.

What is campylobacter?

Infographic thumbnail: your quick guide to campylobacter
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Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK. You can’t see it, smell it or even taste it on food, but if it affects you, you won’t forget it. At its worst, it can kill you. But if we work together we can eliminate the risks.

Campylobacter poisoning usually develops a few days after consuming contaminated food and leads to symptoms that include abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and, sometimes, vomiting, It can last for between 2 and 10 days and can be particularly severe in small children and the elderly. In some cases, it can affect you forever – sparking off irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), reactive arthritis and in rare cases, Guillain-Barré syndrome – a serious and sometimes permanent condition of the nervous system.

There were more than 72,000 confirmed lab reports of people suffering from campylobacter poisoning last year. Most of them survived, but not all.

We are continuing to analyse the full impact that campylobacter has, but previous estimates have indicated that campylobacter causes more than 100 deaths a year, and costs the UK economy about £900 million. It’s an unacceptably high public health burden, and the main responsibility for addressing this rests with the food industry.

How do you get it?

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About four in five cases of campylobacter poisoning in the UK come from contaminated poultry. One of the main ways to get and spread campylobacter poisoning is through touching raw chicken – in particular, washing raw chicken can spread campylobacter by splashing it onto work surfaces, clothing and cooking equipment.

We know from research that most people don’t know about or don’t follow advice about handling and preparing raw chicken, and may not realise that they could be spreading dangerous germs. But, taking simple steps will stop it spreading and cooking poultry properly will kill it.

Join the pledge

The Acting on Campylobacter Together accelerated solutions event was held in June 2014. It brought together representatives from government, retailers, caterers, poultry producers and processors, and consumer organisations, to agree actions that could be taken to reduce campylobacter. As part of the event, a pledge was developed which allowed organisations to demonstrate their commitment to the campaign.

The pledge

The human impact of campylobacter is unacceptable.

Tackling campylobacter is a critical priority for our organisation.

We commit to acting now to ensure we achieve the 2015 target and to delivering a future in which campylobacter in poultry is no longer a threat to human health.

As part of this commitment we will:

  • share legally all information we have that could help make a difference
  • invest as much time, effort and money as it takes

Signatories:

  • Red Tractor
  • Waitrose
  • National Farmers Union
  • Morrisons
  • Marks and Spencer
  • Moy Park
  • Bernard Matthews
  • Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Food Standards Agency
  • 2 Sisters
  • Faccenda
  • British Poultry Council
  • Tesco
  • Asda
  • Bailey’s Turkeys
  • IHP/Chesterfield Poultry
  • The Co-operative Food
  • Aldi

Below, a separate version of the pledge reflects the commitment of consumer organisations to the campaign.

Consumer organisations' pledge

The human impact of campylobacter is unacceptable. 

We are committed to doing all that is in our scope to encourage tougher action to bring down levels in chickens and ultimately reduce the high rates of unnecessary food poisoning it causes. 

Signatories:

  • Which?
What our partners say

Our invitation to you

We invite your support in making a visible and vocal pledge in Acting on Campylobacter Together.

We invite you to:

  • use the Acting on Campylobacter Together emblem on your website to show the work you are doing to tackle the problem
  • include the emblem on any relevant publications, press releases or at events to acknowledge the shared nature of the solution as well as highlighting your own contributions
  • use the phrase when speaking publically about the actions you are taking on reducing campylobacter

Acting on Campylobacter Together emblem (landscape)
Landscape version (high resolution)

Acting on Campylobacter Together emblem (portrait)
Portrait version (high resolution)

 

You’ll see the progress we are making

The poultry supply industry needs to make some significant changes but producers, processors, caterers and retailers have all committed to their part in the fight against campylobacter. Consumers will be able to be the judges of any progress, or lack of progress, that they make.

On a quarterly basis over the next year, the FSA will release the results of tests carried out on about 1,000 samples of chicken being sold by UK retailers. In 2015, we will publish a statistical analysis of the first full-year survey. The information published for each sample will include details about where the chicken was bought, the abattoir that processed it, whether or not the sample contained campylobacter and if so, how heavily it was contaminated.

Everyone is working hard to solve this:

  • UK Government: to lobby in the European Union for better hygiene controls, and to hold industry to account
  • farmers and producers: to reduce the number of flocks of broilers (chickens grown for meat) that contain campylobacter when they are presented for slaughter
  • slaughterhouses and processors: to make sure that the processes they use keep levels of contamination in the birds they produce to a minimum
  • caterers: to make sure that they and their staff are aware of the risks from raw poultry and work harder to avoid cross-contamination during handling or from under-cooking
  • local government partners: to help raise awareness of campylobacter and ensure that food businesses using chilled poultry meat are aware of the risks and keeping to the highest standards of hygiene
  • retailers and supermarkets: to play their role by advising their customers not to wash raw chicken and to cook it thoroughly
  • consumers: to reflect on whether the way that they handle food in their homes risks food poisoning for themselves and their families

But, by acting on campylobacter together we can provide safer food for the nation and save lives. Will you do your part?

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