August 4th, 2014
Episode 451 of 640 episodes
Is the poultry industry fit for purpose? As our consumption of chicken increases and UK poultry production intensifies, Dan Saladino looks at the modern poultry industry. Two recent events have brought the production of chicken into sharp focus. The first is an investigation by the Guardian's Special Correspondent Felicity Lawrence into allegations of hygiene failings at major production plants. It was a serious claim as poultry production is already under scrutiny because of the presence of campylobacter in most chicken, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. The report triggered a call by the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, for checks on two factories. The company involved strongly denied any problems had taken place, subsequent checks by the Food Standards Agency found no breaches and the plants were given the all clear. However the episode brought poultry production under national scrutiny. Dan is given full access to the production line of one of the plants involved. Based in Scunthorpe it's the largest poultry slaughter house in the UK and is owned by the largest supermarket chicken supplier 2 Sisters. They explain how our chicken is produced and what kind of measures are in place to reduce levels of campylobacter. The second story that brought poultry to renewed national attention was a recent decision by the Food Standards Agency on its plans to publish data revealing which supermarkets had the highest levels of campylobacter in their supply chains. In March it was announced that the agency was pushing ahead with "steely determination" to publish the names and levels of the bacteria. In July that decision was reversed and that data might not be available for another year. Dan asks the Food Standards Agency why consumers won't be getting this information as soon as possible.