The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published its 2014 Forward Evidence Plan, in which the authority outlines its priorities for the next 12 months.
As one of the key issues to address, the plan deals with Campylobacter — the UK's most common cause of food poisoning. The FSA proposes that a study is carried out to look into the possible ways to change processing equipment at plants to restrict Campylobacter contamination. The study will also have to explore how exactly the pathogen attaches to chicken surfaces and why prevention practices are inconsistently applied at processing facilities, the FSA explained.
As part of its plan for 2014, the agency will also introduce new safety guidance regarding Listeria in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.
Viruses will be addressed, especially Hepatitis E in pork and Hepatitis A in berries and various processed foods. These have emerged as a cause for concern because they are very heat-stable and, unlike bacteria, are more difficult to kill while cooking. The FSA plans to tackle the problem by further analysing heat stability.
The agency will also try to develop tools for detecting horsemeat in heavily processed foods to prevent future occurrences like the horsemeat scandal last year. In addition, the FSA is working on reviewing testing methods for finding marine biotoxin in shellfish, the document said.