You don’t want to play with this one.
It’s our No 1 cause of food poisoning and you get it from bacteria in raw chicken.
“Campylobacter” is not easy to say.
It’s not easy to stomach either. A week of cramps and diarrhoea are the norm – you can even die from it.
And it’s so potent, ONE DROP of water or juice from a raw chicken is enough to infect someone.
Hurry up and wait
Thing is, nobody’s doing anything about it – basically just running round like chickens with their heads chopped off.
Banging the drum are the Food Standards Agency, who quite rightly alert us to how dangerous campylobacter is and the dangers of handling raw chicken. Their tips and hints for playing safe are first-class and should keep anyone out of trouble.
At the same time they are blaming the supermarkets, moaning that the big chains are doing little or nothing to stop campylobacter occurring in the product they sell.
Uh huh. A hello birdie moment for the FSA, because realistically there’s not a lot supermarkets can do to pressure their suppliers.
Because there’s not much the growers can do either.
Natural in birds
The facts of life are that the campylobacter bacterium is NOT pathogenic in birds. It lives in them quite naturally and they are not affected. It’s a normal condition, like human beings have dandruff.
Which means around 70% of all commercially reared chickens are probably positive for it – enough to bankrupt the industry if forced to destroy them.
Besides, imagine the problems of isolating a flock of unaffected birds.
Tighten up biosecurity, yes. But one drop of moisture – one waft of wind-borne campylobacter molecules – would be enough to contaminate the whole lot. A near impossible task to an industry that has to supply up to 2.2 million birds a week.
Stop campylobacter in chickens?
If such a major chunk of birds are affected, the FSA should either ban them outright or wish for the moon.
The real issue
Because for safety’s sake, it has to be assumed that ALL birds have it.
A total switcheroo on the problem.
Because then, it’s not the breeding of birds that’s the issue.
It’s the hygiene standards of how they’re prepared for market. Exactly where the FSA has the high ground and the muscle.
So why aren’t THEY doing something about it?
Step one would be to enforce that chicken may only be distributed in leak-proof packaging. Any fluid or moisture in the product would be contained and unable to contaminate fridges or storage areas in the supply chain.
Step two is for the FSA warnings to get some teeth. Boldly displayed on all chicken packaging, together with advice about handling raw product, avoiding exposure, and the hazards of cross-contamination.
If we’re that worried about it, the technology probably even exists for a low-cost audio-tag to sound a buzzer or recorded voice warning as soon as the packaging is opened. On a volume of 2.2 million chickens a week, it is certainly possible to develop one.
A solvable problem
And there you have it, campylobacter contained.
Properly warned, the public will know how to handle chicken properly and the problem goes away.
Nobody gets hammered, everybody’s happy, and tummy cramps from barbecuing drumsticks just don’t happen.
Come on FSA, how about it?
Originally posted 2015-04-27 12:21:44.