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FSA Reveals Fresh Supermarket Chickens Contaminated With Campylobacter

80% Of Samples Tested Between May And July Were Positive For Campylobacter


A report published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has revealed that eight out of ten fresh chickens purchased from supermarkets between May and July 2014 were contaminated with campylobacter – a potentially lethal food poisoning bug.

The figures mean that all UK supermarket chains are failing to meet national targets over the issue and may be putting members of the public at risk.

Steve Wearne, director of policy for the FSA, said retailers and major poultry suppliers need to act quickly in order to reach their official target of reducing the proportion of fresh chickens carrying campylobacter to 10 per cent by the end of 2015. 

Retailers in the UK have already begun implementing new techniques to reduce contamination levels in fresh chickens, including new packaging methods, flash-freezing and steaming processes.

Mr Wearne added: “We want levels of campylobacter to be reduced across the board, but this focus on the most highly-contaminated birds – we know it’s those which are most likely to make people ill - allows us to judge the progress that’s being made.”

The British Retail Consortium said it would be working even harder to find solutions to help consumers such as leak-proof packaging for all raw chicken and new roast-in-the-bag products.

Expert Opinion
"It is seriously worrying to see these figures emerge in relation to campylobacter. Through our work, Irwin Mitchell have recovered compensation for tens of thousands of illness victims in the UK and abroad. We have seen numerous cases where people have developed both severe short-term illnesses and others where sufferers been left with long-term health problems due to the bacteria.

“We have only recently been contacted by a number of guests who have reportedly fallen ill with campylobacter following a wedding reception in Leeds”.

"Consumers place huge faith in food manufacturers and retailers regarding the products they purchase and as a result it is vital that guidance on food hygiene is always followed as closely as possible.

"The importance of addressing the issue of campylobacter in chickens should not be downplayed and it is vital that every possible step is taken to prevent consumers from being exposed to serious risk."
Amandeep Dhillon, Partner

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