Posted: Thu 28th May 2015

ASDA has the highest level of fresh chicken contaminated with food poisoning bug latest report says

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Food Standards Agency (FSA) has today published the final set of results from its year-long survey of campylobacter on fresh chickens. 

Results taken between February 2014 and February 2015 show 73% of shop bought whole fresh chickens in the UK’s supermarket chillers are infected with the food poisoning bug campylobacter, and almost a fifth have tested positive at the highest level -7% of packaging tested positive for the bug.

Campylobacter is a food bug mainly found on raw poultry and is the biggest cause of food poisoning in the UK.

Figures also show:

  • Asda has the highest proportion of contaminated chicken on its shelves.
  • Year on year increase in the amount of bacteria found.
  • 19% of whole fresh chickens tested were found to be in the the highest range
  • More than 3,000 samples of fresh whole chilled chickens taken so far.
  • 280,000 people fall ill each year in the UK due to campylobacter related poisoning.

Results from samples so show 19% of whole fresh chickens tested were found to be in the the highest range for campylobacter bacteria contamination.

Of the fresh chicken sampled 73% tested positive for the presence of campylobacter, 7% of packaging tested positive for the presence of campylobacter.

More than 4,000 samples of fresh whole chilled chickens and packaging have now been tested the Food Standards Agency say and their data shows variations between the retailer’s however, none is meeting the target for reducing campylobacter.

Out of the ‘big four’ supermarkets tests show Tesco fresh chicken has a lower incidence of chicken contaminated with campylobacter at the highest level compared to the industry average, while Asda has the highest level of campylobacter present compared to the industry average.

Results suggest none of the retailers is achieving the joint industry target for reducing campylobacter.

Retailer

Number of
samples

% skin samples positive for campylobacter (95% confidence interval)

Asda

662

80.4  

Co-op

378

78.1  

M&S

130

67.1  

Morrison’s

349

75.8  

Sainsbury’s

557

69.7 

Tesco

1235

66.5 

Waitrose

111

73.8

Others

589

76.8

Total

4.011

72.8

 
Samples were collected from retail premises in the UK and information gathered included temperature on receipt, approved premises code and use-by dates. Chickens sampled were:
  • Whole, chilled, raw, UK-produced standard, free range or organic chickens;
  • Where contained in a package, it was unopened and undamaged;
  • NOT frozen;
  • NOT basted, herbed, stuffed, marinated or otherwise modified.

The FSA is pressing the industry to play its part in reducing the levels of campylobacter contamination at each production stage to as low a level as possible before raw chicken reaches the consumer. Chicken is safe as long as consumers follow good kitchen practice:

  • Cover and chill raw chicken: Cover raw chicken and store at the bottom of the fridge so juices cannot drip on to other foods and contaminate them with food poisoning bacteria such as campylobacter.
  • Don’t wash raw chicken: Cooking will kill any bacteria present, including campylobacter, while washing chicken can spread germs by splashing.
  • Wash used utensils: Thoroughly wash and clean all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, after handling raw chicken. This helps stop the spread of campylobacter by avoiding cross contamination.
  • Cook chicken thoroughly: Make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut in to the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.
 

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