Via The Guardian: Revealed: the dirty secret of the UK’s poultry industry. Excerpt:
Three of the UK’s leading supermarkets have launched emergency investigations into their chicken supplies after a Guardian investigation uncovered a catalogue of alleged hygiene failings in the poultry industry.
Undercover footage, photographic evidence and information from whistleblowers has revealed how strict industry hygiene standards to prevent the contamination of chicken with the potentially deadly campylobacter bug can be flouted on the factory floor and on farms.
Specific incidents identified in the last month include a factory floor flooded with chickens guts in which the bacteria can flourish, carcasses coming into contact with workers’ boots then returned to the production line and other poor practices involving points in the production chain that increase the risk of its spread.
The evidence prompted Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer to launch emergency investigations into their chicken sources over the last week.
The concern centres on the bacteria campylobacter, which at the last count was present in two-thirds of British fresh chicken sold in the UK. Although the bug is killed by thorough cooking, around 280,000 people in the UK are currently made ill each year by it and 100 people are thought to die. Contamination rates are known to have increased in the past decade.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA), however, decided on Wednesday to shelve a promise to name and shame supermarkets and processors for their campylobacter rates. The climbdown comes after “push-back” from industry and interventions from government departments.
One source said they had been told Number 10 had raised concerns about the communication of the results, fearing that they could provoke a food scare similar to that triggered when the former Conservative minister Edwina Curry warned that most of British eggs were contaminated with salmonella in 1988.