A new study published by the Food Standards Agency in the UK finds that most of the chickens sold in that country test positive for the presence of Campylobacter bacteria. The study is the first part of a year-long survey of Campylobacter on fresh chickens. The FSA states that its number one food safety priority is tackling Campylobacter contamination on poultry.
FPBchickeninpackageThe results show that 18% of chickens tested positive for Campylobacter above the highest level of contamination (above 1,000 colony forming units per gram). They also found that 70% of the chickens tested positive for Campylobacter. And 6% of packaging tested positive for Campylobacter with only one sample at the highest level of contamination.
So far, 1,995 samples of fresh whole chilled chickens have been tested out of a planned 4,000 samples. There was variation in test results among retailers, but none are meeting the end-of-production target for reducing the pathogenic bacteria. The results show an increase in contamination from the first quarter to the second quarter; that may because the second quarter includes the summer months, when an increase in Campylobacter is seen because of warmer weather.
Campylobacter food poisoning is the most common type in the UK, sickening 280,000 people every year. And poultry is the source of most of those cases.
Steve Wearne, FDA Director of Policy said in a statement, “these results show that the food industry, especially retailers, need to do more to reduce the amount of Campylobacter on fresh chickens. This shows there is a long way to go before consumers are protected from this bug. If chicken is cooked thoroughly and preparation guidelines are properly followed, the risk to the public is extremely low.”