Tesco on course to meet bold new targets for Campylobacter in chicken

13 Nov 2015

Tesco has released new data which shows that the retailer is delivering on its commitment to further reduce the levels of Campylobacter in its fresh chicken.

Tesco has today released new data which shows that the retailer is delivering on its commitment to further reduce the levels of Campylobacter in its fresh chicken.

Throughout 2014/15 the retailer performed well in the Food Standards Agency (FSA) year- long survey, which monitored the levels of bacteria in poultry, and was the only major supermarket to consistently have significantly lower levels of Campylobacter in its chicken compared to the industry average.

Last summer, Tesco pledged to continue to work in partnership with suppliers in order to meet a new industry leading target, set by the retailer, of at least 95 per cent of chickens to have minimal levels of Campylobacter by 2017.

New data compiled by Tesco, has found that significant progress has already been made in recent months, with figures showing that chicken which contain Campylobacter at the highest level, has fallen to less than 9 per cent in the third quarter this year, compared with 15 per cent recorded by the FSA for the same period in 2014.  Meaning that in the last year, the retailer has driven levels of the bacteria down to below the current FSA  target of 10 per cent and are close to meeting its 2017 goal.

Tesco’s Group Quality Director Tim Smith said: ‘Providing high quality and safe food for our customers is always our absolute priority. It has long been our commitment to reduce levels of Campylobacter in our poultry and we are now seeing real progress at all stages of the supply chain, in tackling the issue through the work we have done with our suppliers.

‘With over 91 per cent of our chicken now testing negative for the highest levels of campylobacter, we are clearly demonstrating our commitment  to tackle the issue and how we want to remain at the forefront of any developments to improve the quality and safety of our chicken. It is also testament to the hard work of our suppliers to tackle the issue.’

FSA’s Director of Policy Steve Wearne said: ‘I welcome this encouraging news from Tesco. It is very good to see the company’s commitment to reducing Campylobacter showing positive results and I’m pleased that Tesco is determined now and in the future to reduce the levels of this bug on chicken.   We will continue to play our part in helping retailers and suppliers tackle Campylobacter.’

How the new Tesco data compares to the FSA target:

Campylobacter targets

Interventions that Tesco has introduced to help shoppers keep safe include being one of the first retailers use robust leak-proof packaging for all raw poultry, which also contains customer information on safe food handling and cooking instructions, with further details available online at the Tesco Real Food Website Food Safety in the Home. In addition, store colleagues are trained to look out for and remove any damaged packs from shelves.


Notes to Editors

  • Tesco’s data for this quarter is up to 15th October
  • Tesco’s new specification will require that Campylobacter will not be present at the highest level of >1000 cfu per gram in at least 95% of whole chickens on its shelves. For more information go to http://www.tescoplc.com/index.asp?pageid=17&newsid=1189
  • Tesco updated its chicken packaging at the end of last year to ensure food safety messaging was more prominent and will continue to look for ways to raise awareness amongst customers about safe handling practices.
  • In 2014 the supermarket sponsored an industry wide event to review progress and enhance collaboration which led to the establishment of the ACT Board.
  • For the FSA’s 2014-15 survey, Tesco was the only main retailer to have a lower incidence of chicken contaminated with Campylobacter at the highest level (>1000 cfu/g), compared to the industry average.https://www.food.gov.uk/science/microbiology/campylobacterevidenceprogramme/retail-survey

For more information please contact the Tesco Press Office on
01992 644645

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