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Major Retailers Fail Campylobacter Target

May 28, 2015

chickenThe results of the Food Standards Agencies year-long campylobacter survey have been released and show that 73% of birds purchased are still contaminated with the bug, which affects an estimated 280,000 people every year.

The survey was based on more than 4,000 samples of fresh whole chickens from large UK retailers, smaller independent stores and butchers. Two samples of each chicken were analysed; one sample consisting of 25g skin (mainly neck-skin), and one sample representing the outer packaging. None of the major retailers complied with industry targets, which aim to keep the number of birds contaminated with 1,000 colony forming units per gram (cfu/g) below 10%.

Internal case studies by Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, the Co-op and Waitrose have shown a fall in contamination levels, a fact acknowledged by FSA director Steve Wearne. “We expect all retailers and processors to be achieving the reductions we have seen in these retailers’ figures – that’s the only way we will meet the target we all signed up to,” he said. “We are going to run this survey for a second year and will again look at campylobacter levels on chickens at retail sale. I hope that we will be able to see the results from the actions taken by the four retailers mentioned above and others come through and produce much lower figures for the incidence of campylobacter on the chicken we buy.”

You can read more about the survey on the RHE Food Forum