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Campylobacter levels in chicken down but more to do - FSA

The latest figures from the FSA show levels of campylobacter in supermarket are falling.


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Top tips on how consumers can safely store and cook chicken

Levels of campylobacter in chick down but more must be done

LEVELS of campylobacter in chicken sold by supermarkets is down but the battle against the bacteria is far from over, the Foods Standards Agency (FSA) has warned.

 

The results for the first quarter of testing, from July to September 2015, show a decrease in the number of birds with the highest level of contamination from the same months last year.

 

The new data shows 15 per cent of chickens tested positive for the highest level of contamination, down from 22 per cent in July to September 2014.

 

Campylobacter was present on 76 per cent of chicken samples, down from 83 per cent in the same months of last year.

 

The results for the first quarter show:

  • 15 per cent of chickens tested positive for campylobacter within the highest band of contamination
  • 76 per cent of chickens tested positive for the presence of campylobacter
  • 0.3 per cent of packaging tested positive at the highest band of contamination
  • 6 per cent of packaging tested positive for the presence of campylobacter

The worst performing supermarket was Morrisons, with 25.7 per cent of chicken testing positive for campylobacter within the highest band of contamination.

 

Waitrose was the lowest, with 4.1 testing positive within this band.

 

Steve Wearne, director of policy at the FSA, said: "It is good to see some retailers are getting to grips with campylobacter. However, we want to see all of them pulling together to achieve real and lasting reductions.

 

"I am also pleased 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."

 

Waitrose said part of the reason behind its good results was enhanced biosecurity on family farms which provide its chicken; farmer incentives; flock management systems; innovative production and packaging; and unique in-line interventions at processor level.

 

Heather Jenkins, Waitrose director of agriculture and meat, fish and dairy buying, added: “We continue to support the FSA’s efforts to highlight the issue of campylobacter and are delighted that the work we have done in conjunction with our supplier Moy Park is yielding significant results.

 

“It is important to emphasise the results we are seeing are being driven by our holistic approach to tackling campylobacter right along the supply chain from farm to fork."

 


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What you can do to reduce food poisoning from chicken

What you can do to reduce food poisoning from chicken

The FSA says there is a lot consumers can do to reduce the threat of contamination from campylobacter.

 

Chicken is safe as long as consumers follow good kitchen practice:

  • Cover and chill raw chicken. Cover raw chicken and store on the bottom shelf 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 hands and 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

To see the full list of supermarket performance on campylobacter click here.

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