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Most supermarket poultry still contaminated with deadly bacteria

The Food Standards Agency has revealed that over half of birds carry the potentially deadly bacteria (campylobacter), and many more are heavily contaminated.

According to the results of a controversial new retail survey published by the Food Standards Agency, the majority of the supermarket chicken is still contaminated.

Samples of raw chicken bought at all the leading UK supermarkets and butchers were tested. The survey found that 59% of birds carried the potentially deadly bacteria, and 16% were heavily contaminated. More than two-fifths of retail chickens fell into the medium or heavily contaminated categories.

The food watchdog was on the verge of naming and shaming those involved, however was discouraged heavily to do so by Food agencies. They decided that they needed to wait for a larger number of results before going ahead. This upset consumers and leading food policy experts, as it could be seen that food agencies were putting industry interests above those of the public.

An estimated 280,000 people a year are made ill by the campylobacter bug – the most common form of food poisoning, and the majority of infections can be attributed to contaminated chicken. The FSA has said the illness is its top priority, urging people to not wash the chicken before cooking as this will spread the bacteria across the home.

The agency’s chief executive, Catherine Brown, said: “This survey is an important part of the work we are doing to tackle campylobacter. It will help us measure the impact of interventions introduced by producers, processors, and retailers to reduce contamination.” The FSA would release information on the retailers with the worst rates of contamination “as soon as we have enough date to robustly compare levels”, she said.

​”The FSA must now publish the names of the retailers so consumers are aware of the best and worst-performing shops.

“Campylobacter is responsible for the deaths of 100 people every year, so much more must be done to minimise the risk of contamination at every stage of production,”​ said Richard Lloyd, the executive director of Which?.”

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