1 Jul 2014

Chicken Fair Run

Elli Wright tells us about her recent visit to the British Pig and Poultry Fair.

The British Pig and Poultry Fair was held on 13-14 May in Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire and is the only dedicated pig and poultry industry event in the UK. It brings together people from all areas of the farming community and aims to help pig and poultry producers grow their businesses. The key focus points of the fair include promoting on-farm energy production and using the media to promote the industry.

Meeting a giant chicken at the Fair!

My interest in the poultry industry stems from my current research project investigating the ecology of a bacterium called Campylobacter on a poultry farm. Chickens become colonised with Campylobacter during rearing. Some of you might have been infected with Campylobacter if you have ever eaten undercooked poultry meat; in particular, chicken liver pate is a frequent culprit. Campylobacter infection will leave you feeling nauseous and give you diarrhoea; it is the commonest cause of food poisoning in the UK. Therefore, the poultry industry is working closely with researchers to understand Campylobacter ecology on poultry farms, in order to try to reduce the colonisation of broilers. As a research group, good kitchen hygiene is an important message we like to talk to the public about. It has been the focus of our past public engagement events, including Healthy Tums,Happy Bums in 2013, and will be central to our upcoming event A Twisted Bug’s Life in the Gut at the BBSRC Great British Bioscience Festival in London (13-16 November 2014) and World Museum Liverpool (21 September 2014).

I was invited to attend the Pig and Poultry fair by collaborators in the University of Manchester. They were showcasing a hazard perception test they had developed (which will be presented at A Twisted Bug’s Life) to highlight people’s understanding of kitchen hygiene and to teach members of the farming community some kitchen hygiene rules.

Travelling to Stoneleigh Park on the 14 May proved to be a mammoth task, as a consequence of 6,000 chickens re-enacting the film Chicken Run on the M62 - rather ironic considering I was on my way to the Pig and Poultry Fair! On arrival at Stoneleigh Park, I found the National Farmers Union (NFU) stand, which would be my home for the day.

There were plenty of opportunities for people to chat and mingle

During the day, we had a good number of people trying the hazard perception test including family farmers, exhibitors and NFU workers. A competitive spirit was not too far away. I had the opportunity to walk around the Fair and see some of the exhibits and stalls (hosted by a range of organisations including the Animal Health & Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Bayer, BPEX and the British Egg Industry Council). I even had a caricature of myself drawn onto a polystyrene egg at the MSD Animal Health Stand.

My egg caricature!
I had a fun day meeting new people and, in particular, learning the ropes of the hazard perception test in readiness for A Twisted Bug’s Life in the Gut. Hopefully you will visit us at World Museum Liverpool on Saturday 20 September 2014 where you can take part in the hazard perception test and learn about our research in more detail.

Dr Elli Wright is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute of Infection and Global Health. Her current work forms part of the ENIGMA Project -  a large collaborative programme of Campylobacter research taking place across the UK.

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