The Food Standards Agency today reiterated the importance of good hygiene practice throughout the food chain from farm to fork as it welcomed a Government initiative to tackle salmonella on pig farms.

The message was delivered following a Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food survey that showed high levels of salmonella and campylobacter on pig farms.

The Agency said the survey pointed to the need for speedy action on farms to deal with the problem of salmonella and campylobacter. It welcomed the voluntary code of practice for the prevention and control of salmonella in pig farms launched today by MAFF.

But the Agency said it was equally important that consumers stored, handled and cooked raw meat and poultry in accordance with basic food hygiene practices to ensure that any bacteria present was killed. It is essential that meat and poultry be cooked thoroughly at all times.

The new voluntary code ties in with the Food Standards Agency's own farm to fork approach to food safety and its commitment to cut foodborne illness by 20 percent over the next five years. The Agency is working on a strategy to meet this target which is due to be presented to the Food Standards Agency Board in the spring.