FSA reveals latest campylobacter results

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has revealed a decrease in the highest band of campylobacter in birds from July to September of this year, compared to the same time period in 2014. 

These results are the first from its second-year survey of campylobacter on fresh, shop-bought chickens. 

The industry has agreed that it will target the proportion of birds that are the most heavily contaminated. Research suggests that a focus on reducing the amount of poultry in this category will result in a positive impact on public health.

Recent data revealed that 15% of chickens tested positive for the highest level of contamination, down 7% in July to September 2014. Meanwhile, campylobacter was detected on 76% of chicken samples, a decrease from 83% in the same time period last year.

The FSA revealed that the tests in chickens from The Co-operative and Waitrose made the most significant reductions in the proportion of the chickens they sell that are most highly-contaminated.

This revelation has been welcomed by the FSA. “It is good to see that some retailers are getting to grips with campylobacter,” said Steve Wearne, director of policy at the FSA.

“However, we want to see all of them pulling together to achieve real and lasting reductions.

“I am also pleased that we are starting to see retailers and processors being open with consumers about what they are doing to tackle the problem and about the impact their interventions are having on the chickens they are selling.”

At 86.2%, Morrisons had the highest percentage of skin samples that tested positive for campylobacter.

Other statistics gathered showed that 6% of packaging tested positive for the presence of campylobacter, with 0.3% falling into the highest band of contamination.

During the first quarter, the survey consisted of 1,032 samples of fresh whole chilled UK-produced chickens and packaging accumulated from large UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers. The new survey began sampling in July 2015.

Tests on chickens by the FSA have been taking place since February 2014. The purpose of publishing these results is to highlight the presence of campylobacter and to bring the food chain together in addressing the issue. According to the FSA, campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK, reaching an estimated 280,000 a year.

Food Standards Agency - Summary of results by retailer

The results below have been taken by the Official Stastics report for the survey.

FSA stresses that the data for individual retailers ought to be evaluated carefully.

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