FSA to name and shame in November campylobacter update

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said it will name and shame retailers as part of its next set of campylobacter survey results in November.

The 12- month survey, running from February 2014 to February 2015, is looking at the prevalence and levels of campylobacter contamination on fresh whole chilled chickens and their packaging, testing 4,000 samples of whole chickens bought from UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers.

The first set of results was published in August, but at the time the FSA said there was not enough data to be interpreted in a meaningful way, “so breaking results down by retailer and processor at this stage could mislead consumers”.

Steve Wearne, director of policy at the FSA, said: “We published details about levels of campylobacter found in shop-bought chickens earlier this year, but chose not to name retailers because the data was not robust enough. Since then, double the number of samples has been collected, which better reflects the situation across the country.”

All future quarterly updates will name the major retailers against their summary sample results, added the FSA.

The FSA had previously said in July, that it would not publish quarterly results as the data could be misinterpreted without the completion of a full-year’s sampling. However, it came under pressure from various groups, including consumer watchdog Which?, which called on the association to name and shame the worst offenders.

In its first set of results, 59% of the 853 samples of chicken analysed tested positive for campylobacter, with 4% of samples testing positive for the bacteria on the outside of the packaging.

Further quarterly results will be published next year in February and April, before a final report on the whole survey is published in July 2015.

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