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FSA to publish latest chicken contamination report

The FSA has reported increasing rates of contamination Credit: Nick Ansell / PA Wire

The latest figures on levels of contamination in fresh, shop-bought chicken are due to be published by the Food Standards Agency today.

In February, the FSA reported that contamination of campylobacter - which causes the most common form of food poisoning in the UK - was up across the board, with every major retailer failing to meet reduction targets.

The FSA's survey has tested around 4,000 samples of whole chickens bought from UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers.


Food bug poses 'minimal risk' to the public

The campylobacter food bug poses a "minimal risk" to the public if they follow long standing advice on the preparation and cooking of chicken, according to the Department of Health.

As long as the public continue to follow long standing advice on preparing and cooking chicken, campylobacter poses minimal risk to them - our top priority is the safety of the public and we want people to feel reassured the food they buy is safe.

We continue to work closely with the Food Standards Agency, retailers, processors and farmers to reduce the levels of campylobacter in poultry and we fully support the FSA’s decision to publish a more detailed breakdown of the survey results as soon as they have sufficient data.”

– Department of Health

Waitrose 'very happy' with annual food bug data release

Waitrose would be "very happy" for results on chicken which has tested positive for a food poisoning bug to be made public, once a full year of data is available.

Campylobacter is killed through cooking. Credit: PA

In response to the FSA-report into the bug, a spokesperson said: "Results for individual retailers have not been disclosed as full year results will be available early next year."

They added: "We're very happy for our results to be made public when there is a full year of data available."

They also recommended that customers follow the advice from the Food Standards Agency on campylobacter.

Campylobacter food bug is an 'industry wide issue'

The campylobacter food bug is an "industry wide issue" according to Morrisons supermarkets.

In response to the FSA-report into the bug, a spokesperson said: "This is an industry issue and not a retailer specific one and as all retailers broadly share the same limited supply base, this raises a challenge to any discrepancy in results between retailers if the supplier is the same."

They added that their packaging on our chicken products features guidance on not washing raw meat and washing hands after handling raw meat. They are also going to rebrand their packaging to include the message: "Do Not Wash Poultry Before Cooking."

Coop: 'No retailer can claim to be campylobacter free'

Preparing and cooking chicken properly is the best way to for people to ensure that their poultry is safe to eat, according to The Cooperative supermarket group.

Preparing and cooking chicken properly is best way to avoid campylobacter. Credit: PA Wire

In response to the FSA-report into the bug, a spokesperson said: "No retailer can claim to be campylobacter free. However, if consumers follow the preparation and cooking guidelines they can be certain that their poultry is safe to eat."

They added: "All raw meats may contain naturally occurring food poisoning organisms and it is important that raw meat products are handled with care and thoroughly cooked as this destroys these bacteria."

They also advised that consumers wash their hands after handling raw meats and the packaging and too keep raw meats away from ready to eat foods.


Tesco 'working hard' to reduce food bug in chicken

Supermarket giant Tesco is "working hard" with suppliers and the food industry on solutions to reduce the campylobacter food poisoning bug.

Tesco is working hard to reduce the food bug campylobacter from their chicken. Credit: PA Wire

In response to the FSA-report into the bug, they said: "We have thorough cleaning routines to maintain the highest standards in our stores and all our farms and processors meet stringent industry requirements for hygiene."

They added: "Tesco is working hard in partnership with our suppliers and the industry to find solutions to reduce campylobacter in raw poultry."

While their advice states that their is no need to wash the chicken before cooking they do recommend that customers wash their hands and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw meat.

Campylobacter is killed by thorough cooking, but is the most common form of food poisoning in the UK, affecting an estimated 280,000 people a year, and the majority of these cases come from contaminated poultry.

FSA looking to name food bug chicken retailers 'quickly'

The Food Standards Agency will attempt to name the retailers who sell chicken which has tested positive for a food poisoning bug "more quickly" but releasing that information now "could mislead consumers", the food watchdog said.

The FSA is committed to publishing the full results from its survey of campylobacter on shop-bought chickens, including names of retailers and processors.

However, quarterly results cannot be interpreted in a meaningful way, so breaking results down by retailer and processor at this stage could mislead consumers.

The FSA Board agreed with this position but called for the final results to be delivered sooner than previously planned.

The FSA is now considering how to revise the survey sampling so that full results can be delivered more quickly.

– Food Standards Agency statement
  1. Chris Choi

Why won't FSA name retailers selling food bug chicken?

Britain's Food Standards Agency has discovered very high levels of a dangerous food poisoning bug in fresh chickens.

Some 59% contained campylobacter - in fact just by touching the packs you can be exposed - while 4% of the birds had traces outside the packaging.

I've checked the officials pledges and back in March they promised that they "intended to release the full results, including the names of the retailers and processors", yet they have not given shoppers this vital information.

Food industry 'looking at ways' to prevent food bug

The food industry is looking at ways to prevent fresh chicken from being contaminated by the bug campylobacter.

Improved biosecurity on farms, rapid surface chilling, and anti-microbial washes, were all being considered, FSA chief executive Catherine Brown said:

The chicken supply chain is looking at how interventions such as improved biosecurity on farms, rapid surface chilling, and anti-microbial washes can help reduce campylobacter.

So when they take action and invest in interventions designed to make a difference, these survey figures will enable us to see if they really do make an impact.

The low levels of contamination found on packaging, shown in the results released today, potentially indicate the effectiveness of the leak-proof packaging for poultry introduced by most retailers, which helps to reduce risks of cross contamination in consumers' kitchens.

– Catherine Brown
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