Which? survey reveals consumer concern on campylobacter

Six in 10 consumers are concerned about high levels of campylobacter in chicken, according to a survey by retail magazine, Which?

Ahead of the name and shaming by the Food Standard’s Agency (FSA) of supermarkets with the highest instances of infected chicken later today, Which? released the results of a consumer survey of public opinion on campylobacter.

The survey comes as a result of FSA research published in August, which found six in 10 chicken samples were infected with campylobacter. The new survey from Which? also found that six in 10 people were concerned about these results, while three-quarters (77%) said they thought the cases of infected chicken were too high.

The Which? survey of 2,101 UK adults also found three-quarters (76%) trusted that the fresh chicken stocked by supermarkets was safe to eat and nearly nine in 10 people (86%) assumed the food they bought from supermarkets would not make them ill.

However, the survey also found only a third of people (33%) had heard of campylobacter, compared to 94% being aware of salmonella and 92% of E.coli.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “Our research clearly shows that the majority of people are now concerned about the high levels of this potentially deadly bug in their supermarket chicken. By releasing information about which supermarkets are most affected, the Food Standards Agency will at once put more public pressure on the poor performers to improve and give consumers better information about campylobacter levels.”

Which? reported it had launched a ‘Make Chicken Safe’ campaign, aimed at putting pressure on retailers and the FSA to immediately set out the action they will individually and collectively take to bring campylobacter levels under control and to publicise the results of campylobacter testing.

“There can be no shirking responsibility – everyone involved in producing and selling chickens must act now and tell consumers what they are doing to make sure the chicken we eat is safe,” said Lloyd.

In response, poultry firms are looking at ways to reduce the amount of campylobacter in their chicken products, including Bernard Matthews which reported rapid surface chilling could solve the issue. Meanwhile, Faccenda Foods has invested £1m in ‘SonoSteam’ technology, which kills the bacteria on the skin through steam and ultrasound.

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