Campylobacter - the 'silent epidemic'

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It's the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK, said to be responsible for more than 500,000 cases a year and the highest proportion of hospitalisations. And cases of Campylobacter are on the increase. Experts say the cost and burden of the disease is unacceptably high. And with the most recent surveys suggesting that 65 per cent of chickens at retail sale in the UK are now contaminated with the bacteria, what part can the poultry industry play in helping to lower levels? John Waite investigates why Campylobacter has proved such a difficult organism to understand and control. Why have efforts by the Food Standards Agency and others not achieved a sustained reduction in incidents, and what is now being done to reduce this growing risk to public health?

Producer: Katy Takatsuki.

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27 minutes

Last on

Wed 16 Jan 2013 12:30

The Bacteria

The Bacteria

Campylobacter bacteria shown under a microscope after being grown in laboratory conditions.  The shape of the bacteria, said to be like a corkscrew, is why it causes such havoc in the intestine.


John Waite discusses the measures taken at Thorington Poultry Farm in Saxmundham to keep Campylobacter levels in the flocks to a minimum.  With him is Werner Strydom, Vion Food Group’s Regional Manager.

Understanding "Campy"

The complexity of the organism continues to baffle scientists like Dr Arnoud Van Vliet from the Institute of Food Research in Norwich. He’s been studying the food poisoning bug since 1995.