Soil Association Praise ITV's Campylobacter Documentary

UK - Soil Association press statement re: ITV’s Tonight with Trevor McDonald due for broadcast 8.00pm, Monday, 11th June 2007 featuring potential animal welfare and human health issues concerning organic chicken farming.
calendar icon 15 June 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

We understand that the programme investigated animal welfare on some organic poultry farms and analysed supermarket organic chickens for fat/protein content, presence of campylobacter (the commonest cause of food poisoning from chicken meat), and for antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Campylobacter is found everywhere in the environment and most chickens carry it.

Peter Melchett, Policy Director

Peter Melchett, Policy Director said, ‘We are pleased that none of the animal welfare issues raised in the programme involved poultry farms certified by the Soil Association; confirming that our organic standards follow the advice of animal welfare experts and deliver higher animal welfare than those provided under the EU organic directive and as set by some other UK organic certifying bodies.

Following ITV’s investigation, we urge all UK certifying bodies to adopt our animal welfare standards to meet the publics’ rightful expectations of best practice.

Campylobacter is found everywhere in the environment and most chickens carry it. Basic food hygiene and proper cooking are the key means to protect human health. But we are not complacent; we do know that because organic chickens enjoy longer, better lives they are susceptible to picking up campylobacter infection. We welcome more research to minimise risk to human health.

The Soil Association has campaigned tirelessly to end the practice of routinely administering antibiotics to intensively-reared livestock - a proven, key cause of multi-drug resistant bacteria. Our standards prohibit routine use of antibiotics. Unfortunately, these ‘super-bugs’ are now widespread in the environment and even organic farms can’t guarantee to be free of them. The Soil Association welcomes ITV’s investigation if it stimulates long-overdue government action in identifying levels of drug-resistant bacteria in live chickens at the farm level – the key place to determine the scale of the problem.’

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