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Tackling Campylobacter in the food chain

A £4M initiative funded by BBSRC, Defra and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to study Campylobacter in the food chain, from field to plate.

The initiative funded 12 projects, bringing together researchers from across disciplines, which together cover a comprehensive range of questions about Campylobacter, which is the leading cause of food poisoning in the UK.

The projects cover three main areas:

  • When does infection begin in poultry, what are the common points of contamination, and are there stages in the process where control measures are likely to be most effective?
  • How can biocontrol of Campylobacter on farms and during processing make a difference? What are the best approaches to biocontrol?
  • What is it about the biology of the bacteria, the bird, and the interaction between them that compounds the problem?

Details of the 12 projects are available in the downloads section.

About Campylobacter

Campylobacter species are responsible for more than 300,000 cases of food poisoning a year in England and Wales, and are the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK. Campylobacter infection or contamination can potentially occur at any point during poultry production and food processing. To provide safe and nutritious food for a growing world population it is important to reduce the incidence of food poisoning.

The poultry industry in the UK is worth £4Bn at the retail level and employs 35,000 people. This science will serve to underpin strength in this industry in the UK and also globally where it is estimated to be worth over £85Bn. This not least because the UK hosts the world's two leading poultry breeding companies, which supply more than 80% of the global supply of breeding stocks.

In 2010 the UK's main public funders of food safety research (BBSRC, Defra, the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Northern Ireland Department for Agriculture and Rural Development and the Scottish Government) joined together to publish a coordinated strategy to investigate the food bug Campylobacter. The strategy is available in the downloads section.