With the high cost of turkey during the Holidays, some people are looking into serving Chicken as an alternative during Thanksgiving in the United Kingdom. Although that seems like a practical idea, you might have to think otherwise when it comes to food safety. According to BBC, more than 70% of the chickens sold in the UK are contaminated with a food bug called Campylobacter, as revealed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
Annual tests have been contacted and it showed higher than the suggested 59% of contamination rate among poultries. The highest Campylobacter rate of contamination was found in the chickens sold by poultry factory, Asda with 78%. Following it closely was other unnamed companies and M&S. Thankfully, Tesco was found to have relatively low rates of contamination with 11%, but exercising precaution is advised.
In response to this situation, Asda released a statement expressing their disappointment in such occurrence and that they were conducting investigations and working on finding a solution to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
FSA tested over 2,000 fresh chickens and Asda's chickens were found with more than 1,000 colony-forming units per gram. Marks & Spencer was the next worse with 22% of its birds contaminated.
"These results show that the food industry, especially retailers, need to do more to reduce the amount of Campylobacter on fresh chickens," said the Director of Policy for the FSA, Steve Wearne.
Usually, the FSA doesn't release the names of the company that had undergone tests. It's the first time the agency divulged such information to ensure public safety and awareness, as well as an attempt to improve food standards. However, it assured the buyers and consumers that the Campylobacter can be easily killed through thorough cooking.
"If chicken is cooked thoroughly and preparation guidelines are properly followed, the risk to the public is extremely low."
Other advices from the FSA in handling the chickens include:
Covering raw chicken and storing it on top of the fridge, so juices cannot drip on the food.
Thoroughly washing utensils and surfaces used in preparing the chicken
Campylobacter has been the leading cause of food poisoning in the country, responsible for over 280,000 reported cases each year and even 100 deaths. Poultry had been known to be the host of such bacteria.