14 Nov 2009

Poultry industry takes credit for campylobacter drop

5:30 pm on 14 November 2009

The Poultry Industry Association says a farm-to-plate review of processing practices explains why a sharp drop in cases of the bug campylobacter has been sustained.

The industry and the Food Safety Authority have been working to combat campylobacter at various points in the food chain.

The number of reported cases in humans was 8650 in 2006, 6850 in 2007 and fell to 3500 in 2008.

Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson says this year's figures will probably be similar to those of 2008.

The Poultry Industry Association's executive director, Michael Brooks, says the industry has made huge efforts to reduce the risk of food poisoning.

He says packaging processes and cross-contamination with other products are possible sources of infection, but added that cooking chicken kills campylobacter.

The authority's principal risk management adviser, Judi Lee, says the industry's efforts to improve hygiene standards are paying off.

She says it is still unclear how campylobacter gets into poultry flocks, and work is continuing internationally into the role of pests such as flies.