As the Food Standards Agency (FSA) reveals that two-thirds of shop-bought chicken is contaminated with campylobacter with about 500,000 people a year infected, we teamed up with Addmaster to create a bug busting solution to protect consumers.
The FSA's most recent research suggests about 60 per cent of raw shop-bought chicken is contaminated. Even when a flock is identified as having the bacteria, the birds can still be sold for human consumption on the grounds that, properly handled and properly cooked, they present no risk to human health.
As market leaders in our respective fields, LINPAC Packaging teamed up with Addmaster to work with some customers on the creation of a technically-advanced range of trays and lidding films with built-in antimicrobial technology to reduce bacteria growth on the outer packaging of fresh meat.
Addmaster is the leading supplier of performance additives to industry. Its Biomaster antimicrobial technology is a silver-based additive that can be added into any plastic, paper, textile, paint or coating product. Treated products have been proven to reduce the growth of Campylobacter on their surface by up to 99.99%.
Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s an article by Addmaster’s Technical Manager Lesley Taylor on the issues surrounding campylobacter and some of the solutions available to combating it in the retail cycle.
A silver bullet for Campylobacter
Campylobacter accounts for a third of the cost of the burden of foodborne illness in England and Wales, estimated at more than £583m.
Catherine Brown, chief executive of the FSA is on record as having stated that both the human and economic cost of Campylobacter is unacceptable.
Contaminated chicken knowing sold
People might be alarmed to know that the poultry industry is producing and retailers are selling chicken they know to be contaminated with the dangerous bacteria. Indeed, in tests conducted by the FSA, nearly two thirds of all chicken sold are contaminated.
Birds identified as having the bacteria can be sold for human consumption on the grounds that they present no risk to health as long as they are handled and cooked properly.
Infection easily spread
Campylobacter is easily transported around the farm so it may be difficult to stop the spread of infection between houses once it becomes established in one.
Depopulation or "thinning" practices in chicken flocks is known to increase the likelihood of infection in live birds and the crates they’re transported in to the slaughterhouses offer ideal conditions for cross contamination.
As a result, Campylobacter-free poultry is not expected to be available anytime soon.
In the processing plant, the most likely source of cross infection is from gutting the chicken and removing the feathers. Despite putting in place measures to stop cross contamination, the processing plants are having little success eradicating it.
Cleaning stops, bacteria grow
Cross-contamination in the kitchen has been identified as a major contributing cause of food borne illness. Interventions to change consumer behaviour such as having clean hands, cleaning kitchen utensils, cutting boards, taps and surfaces that have come into contact with raw meat, rinsing of salads and most importantly cooking all meat thoroughly, could significantly reduce the incidence of Campylobacteriosis.
As soon as routine cleaning stops, bacteria can begin to grow, with some harmful microbes able to double in number every 20 minutes. It’s impossible to clean surfaces and products all of the time whereas Biomaster inhibits the growth of bacteria in between cleaning cycles.
The silver bullet
Biomaster pioneered the use of silver based antimicrobial additives and can provide an antimicrobial solution for any point in the food chain to reduce the risk of bacterial cross contamination.
The antimicrobial action of Biomaster is silver ion technology. Silver is a natural antimicrobial that has been used for centuries to prevent the growth of bacteria.
Easily incorporated into any plastic during manufacture, Biomaster becomes an integral part of the finished product making it more hygienic, whilst providing effective, lasting antimicrobial protection and reducing the threat of cross contamination. It’s inorganic so it can’t leach out or be washed off.
Protection from farm to fork
There are a number of forward-thinking companies who have already brought to market products that can help prevent the spread of Campylobacter.
Egg incubators create the ideal conditions for the growth of microbes and bacteria that can in turn be harmful to incubating eggs and can cause embryonic death. To reduce this risk Brinsea, the incubation specialists, have incorporated Biomaster into their incubator cabinets to prevent the growth of bacteria and help provide the optimum environment for hatching.
Biomaster are also working closely with producers of broiler house feeders and drinkers and protective clothing manufacturers for stockmen and processing personnel to launch products offering built-in antimicrobial protection.
Dycem produce Biomaster Protected high performance mats and floor coverings that stop contamination in its tracks. Research has shown that the use of their products can lead to a 75% reduction in airborne contaminants - so they're ideal for use in food processing plants and packaging areas.
Multi-material packaging manufacturer LINPAC – our partner - which supplies packaging to all the multi-nationals has launched a range of Biomaster Protected meat trays and films to reduce bacteria growth on the outer packaging of fresh meat. The range won the Award for Innovation at the 2013 Pig and Poultry Marketing Awards 2013 and is now helping to prevent cross contamination during packaging and distribution.
And to ensure all you meat is cooked properly, there’s the Biomaster Protected ThermaLite 2 is a cost effective thermometer that is ideal for routine day-to-day food and catering applications.
Biomaster alone will not eradicate Campylobacter. However, when used in conjunction with both excellent biosecurity on the farm and in process plants and food hygiene best practice around the home, it can provide protection against cross contamination on virtually any surface.
Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week from farm to fork.