/ Food & Drink, Health, Shopping

How many chickens really contain campylobacter?

The Food Standards Agency has today published the first of its quarterly results for levels of campylobacter contamination in supermarket chickens – we now want to know the best and worst performing shops…

Although most people haven’t heard of campylobacter, its effects can be deadly and debilitating.

The FSA has found that 6 in 10 chickens are contaminated, causing around 280,000 cases of food poisoning a year and 100 deaths.

But unlike salmonella, campylobacter remains mysterious. Many cases are sporadic and the onset of illness can be several days after contaminated food was eaten. There’s also no sign of a vaccine.

Preventing campylobacter contamination

We know that most campylobacter comes from chicken and it is a priority for the FSA, which has been working with retailers and the poultry industry to try to improve controls and bring levels down.

There’s no simple answer, but a lot is now known about what can help reduce the levels of contamination. In particular, more concerted efforts have to be made by the retailers and suppliers to tighten controls and prevent contamination at every point in the rearing and processing chain.

The problem is that this comes at a cost and whilst many people are unaware of the issue, there’s not a huge incentive for food businesses to improve. The FSA used national Food Safety Week to tell people not to wash chicken as this spreads the bug about.

But while heightened consumer awareness is obviously essential, we have been relying on consumers to guard against food industry weaknesses for too long.

Chlorine washes for chickens in the US

In recent years, there has also been a lot of focus on end process treatments, such as chlorine washes that are permitted in the US but not in the EU, as a way of cleaning up chicken at the end of the production line. More acceptable treatments, such as rapid surface chilling, are becoming available but still risk taking the focus away from improving the rest of the production process.

The retailer survey is a welcome move by the FSA but so far it has not published the results by retailer. This is important to help drive up standards and enable consumers to make more informed choices.

The horsemeat incident highlighted the vulnerability of food supply chains. There are many risks and weaknesses that are difficult to anticipate. Campylobacter is a problem that we have known about for many years and it’s time for the FSA to show that it can still be tough and drive improvements across the industry.

A version of this post first appeared on The Grocer.


I have never been happy with the advice not to wash chicken before cooking. The reasoning is that the toxin produced by Camplylobacter is destroyed by heat, as are the bacteria themselves.

What concerns me is that other hazardous bacteria produce heat-stable toxins that will remain after cooking. Some of these toxins are quite nasty. I would rather take my chances washing off dirt and slime containing bacteria and toxins. I have done so carefully and have not had any problem. I take care not to splash water around the kitchen and to disinfect surfaces with bleach afterwards.

I presume that the fact that 6 out of 10 chickens are contaminated with Camplylobacter is down to poor husbandry or processing. As mentioned in Sue’s introduction, we could wash the carcasses with chlorine (presumably this means bleach) but it would be better to improve standards in the food industry.

We have been told that contaminated chicken causes around 280,000 cases of food poisoning a year and 100 deaths a year. I wonder how many of the less serious cases go unreported. It is a depressing statistic. Modern methods have given us cheap chicken but at the cost of it being considered too hazardous to wash.

As far as I can see this does not seem to be an easy problem to solve. World Health Organisation published a report in 2009 – don’t know whether there has been substantial progress since? Control seems not to be straightforward at any stages in the chain – from breeding birds, raising flocks, slaughter and even cooking (some heat resistance apparently). It seems to me that whatever multiple measures need to be taken will need very responsible management. This is an international problem, not something we can beat the FSA with.
I’d worry whether imported chicken from outside the EU, at least, could be trusted to meet these measures.
Like other foods, I’d buy chicken from responsible retailers, avoid cheap versions, and cook it well – and be careful about handling raw chicken when other foods are being prepared.

Here is a link to what the government and industry are doing to try and tackle the problem. It is one of the documents on the Food Standards Agency website.

As Malcolm says, tackling the problem is not easy but thinking about the fatalities and the number of people who become seriously ill means that we need to do as much as we reasonably can achieve. Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK.

“The problem is that this comes at a cost …… there’s not a huge incentive for food businesses to improve.”
The EU estimate – EFSA – “With over 190,000 human cases annually, this disease is the most frequently reported food-borne illness in the European Union (EU). However, the actual number of cases is believed to be around nine million each year. The cost of campylobacteriosis to public health systems and to lost productivity in the EU is estimated by EFSA to be around EUR 2.4 billion a year.”
I wonder what incentives are needed for the food businesses to improve to save some of this EUR 2.4 billion? Whilst it seems difficult to control Campylobacter therer are a number of “interventions” that can help reduce the risk. Perhaps the EU should spend some money monitoring these interventions and imposing penalties when they are not used properly? That might be an incentive for food businesses? Maybe we should be thinking about strict controls on imports from outside the EU (remember bans in other countries on British beef when we had BSE?)

It is the food industry’s responsibility to produce safe food and follow the relevant regulations, so I’m not sure if incentives are appropriate. Fines might be treated as a business expense and used as a reason to increase prices. Naming and shaming the worst offenders might be the best approach. I understand that the government intended to publish information that compared the supermarkets but that does not seem to have happened.

This rather unpleasant video was published recently: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/23/-sp-revealed-dirty-secret-uk-poultry-industry-chicken-campylobacter

wavechanger, the “incentives” I had in mind were banning the distribution of chicken from offending companies.
The EU should spend money monitoring producers, slaughterers and distributors (including retailers) – and ensure, as far as possible, only safe chicken is sold. Fines are a waste of time. Loss of business is one sanction, but there should be criminal sanctions against individuals responsible for knowingly evading measures deisigned to maintain public health.
Naming and shaming – we have short memories, and probably care little. How many still shop at stores selling horsemeat?

Malcolm – Hmm. I think the use of the word ‘incentive’ did not convey what you had in mind, but I think we can agree that some form of penalty is needed.

You choose your retailers carefully and I avoid budget meat and other foods. That’s great but everyone deserves safe food. I agree that the EU has an important role in this and other safety issues, and I wish that they would not tinker with trivial matters that generate so much poor publicity by the press. I think you are right that action needs to be taken against individuals who knowingly evade safety measures. Here fines would have an effect, as would banning them from working in the food industry.

I would like to know how the campylobacter problem has changed over the years. When I was young, chicken was regarded as a treat rather than cheap meat. Now we are told that we should not wash chicken because of the risk to our health, so we pop it in the oven complete with a factory-fresh dressing of filth and faeces. 🙁

In the future it may be possible to overcome the problem by vaccinating chickens but in the meantime there is a lot that could be done to clean up the processing of poultry.

wavechange, I was picking on “incentive” from the introduction “there’s not a huge incentive for food businesses to improve”. My point was there is a huge incentive to save the EU up to EUR2.4 billion – apart from the far more important prevention of illness and deaths. That “incentive” needs to be implemented!

I’ve just recovered from Campylobacter, but as a retired Biomedical Scientist I knew both the symptoms and the origin. I visited my GP, just to have the illness notified, as I waited until I was symptom free before I went. I have always been paranoid about chicken and if I could find someplace that sells polythene gloves, I would wear them when handling chicken. I normally get my chicken from our local reliable butcher, but I think it was a special offer from M&S (3 chicken dishes for £10) that was infected as my partner was not ill.

Where we live in Norfolk is in the middle of a huge chicken industry. I have never been inside a processing factory but we are familiar with the conditions under which the birds are reared and transported. We don’t eat chicken.

My ex-husband only worked for a half day in a chicken factory in the 1960s because he was disgusted with the state of the processing plant. I briefly worked in another food factory at the same time and was horrified at the content of meat pies and sausage rolls.

renniemac says:
6 August 2014

I too have always had a problem with the advice about not washing chicken, When I was chicken I do so at a slow running tap more importantly at an empty sink and surrounding area. these areas can have a quick wash down with some detergent. I have known people who have developed Campylobacter it is a very nasty germ. There was also a famous Glasgow Celtic player Morten Veighors (sorry if spelling wrong) Who contracted the disease almost killing him after eating out. his playing career ended, taking up managing instead.
don’t wash chicken under a quick running tap as it will splash all over the place, slow running water I think is best. where best hygiene practices are observed there is less chance of contamination. I will do as I have always done. This works for me.


Is really quite interesting. The length of time viruses are active is scary when apparently c.difficle can survive up to five months.

I was much heartened to see that the NHS believes hot washes with a blech are necessary:

“How to stop clothes spreading germs
To stop clothes and linen from spreading germs it’s important to wash them properly.

Washing high-risk items

If the items you are washing are likely to cause illness (high risk), they should be washed at 60ºC with a bleach-based product. Items are likely to cause illness if you have someone in your home who has an infectious illness. The following items are also high risk:

clothes soiled with vomit or faeces (including re-usable nappies)
sports clothes from high contact sports, such as judo or wrestling
towels or cloths used in food preparation
healthcare workers’ uniforms
farmers’ clothing, especially during lambing season (see Why should pregnant women avoid sheep during the lambing season?)

Which? has a rather weasel worded approach to this matter:
“Does it matter whether my machine reaches 60°C?
Even if your washing machine is one of the models that does actually reach the temperature shown on the front of the machine, it turns out you’ll still be reliant on your choice of detergent to remove any bugs and bacteria from your laundry.”

All the testing I have seen suggests a high temperature and the right detergent out-perform a lower temperature with the same detergent. Another words a 60C beats a 40C wash for killing more types of germs etc.

DT, I suspect this post should be in the washing machine conversation? Please reassure me you are not suggesting sticking your chicken in a bleach solution in the washing machine at 60C. although it might well work…..

Actually I looked first of the links about the length of life of campylobacter – and associated nasties.
When I saw the link to clothing etc I could not resist looking at what the NHS says.

I always like to look at the authoritative sources before getting too deep into a discussion! : )

interestingly though chickens are the most common cause it is only implicated in 20-30% of the outbreaks.

Campylobacter can be associated with raw and undercooked meat other than chicken. Rapid cooking (e.g. barbecue and microwave) is often insufficient to allow the inside of the meat to reach the temperature required to kill campylobacter and other hazardous bacteria.

One of our defences against campylobacter and other microorganisms is the acid (hydrochloric acid) in our stomach. A significant proportion of the public take proton pump inhibitors (e.g. lanzoprazole) to suppress acid production, putting them at higher risk if they eat undercooked meat.

It is well established that undercooked meat presents a considerable risk of food poisoning in this and other countries. On the other hand, there is not much evidence that using washing machines at lower temperature is a serious health issue. The washing and rinsing physically removes a lot to the bacteria etc from fabrics. Obviously nappies have to be disinfected before washing and the same should be done with clothing etc. that has been soiled or used by someone with an infection, and nurses’ uniforms. Unlike liquids and gels, washing powders generally contain bleach so they are better at killing bugs. The NHS advice says that it’s OK to wash at 40ºC with a bleach-based product provided it is not soiled or contaminated. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I don’t see a problem with that. If used for low temperature washing, a periodic maintenance wash at high temperature is needed to keep washing machines free of contamination by smelly and potentially dangerous bacteria etc.

Our skin is covered with bugs and so are our homes, and human beings in reasonable health have defences that protect us from infection. This works well if we take reasonable precautions such as washing hands after using the toilet, before handling food and if we are in contact with a sick person. What we are sometimes unable to cope with is large numbers of bugs. Microbiologists use the term ‘minimum infective dose’ or ‘infectious dose’ to give an indication of how many bacteria etc. are needed to cause an infection. It’s relatively low for campylobacter.

Wavechange you quote NHS advice for washing at 40C without giving a link.
” The NHS advice says that it’s OK to wash at 40ºC with a bleach-based product provided it is not soiled or contaminated.”
I am concerned that there seem to be two messages and they cannot both be right.

I am bemused as given my less than perfect knowledge where items have been I always assume items such as “towels or cloths used in food preparation” should be washed at the higher temperature of 60C with a bleach based powder. ” If the items you are washing are likely to cause illness (high risk), they should be washed at 60ºC with a bleach-based product.” as the NHS says.

“One of our defences against campylobacter and other micro organisms is the hydrochloric acid in our stomach”

I have recently read that hydrochloric stomach acid depletes with age which may explain why the elderly are more at risk when contracting campylobacter. I have always questioned the logic behind the advice given by an Irish Doctor years ago to feed my then young offsprings with stewed apple for their stomach upsets. I later learned that apples contain hydrochloric acid and found that eating an apple after a heavy meal is the best remedy for indigestion. What I didn’t realise however is the important role it plays in helping to destroy any bacterial invaders contained in the food we eat.

Fascinating stuff from a conversation about chickens!!!

Beryl – As you say, the amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach declines with age but the elderly are more susceptible to infection for various other reasons. I have no medical expertise but think it would seem sensible to warn those taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to suppress gastric acid production that they are at greater risk of enteric (intestinal) infection. Here’s a review about this. Don’t worry about the detail. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04874.x/pdf

With so many people taking PPIs, I would not be surprised if this is a factor in the frequency of food poisoning caused by Campylobacter and other bacteria. Surprisingly, PPIs are rarely mentioned when food poisoning is discussed.

Apples contain malic acid, which is also found in other fruit. I have never heard of them containing hydrochloric acid. If it is possible to relieve indigestion by eating ordinary foods rather than swallowing pills, that seems like a good idea.

I think we are still on topic. 🙂

Dieseltaylor – I was referring to the NHS page that you provided a link for.

My comments were related to general washing rather than specific items where special treatment is needed. Sorry for not making this clear.

Towels or cloths used in food preparation are listed on this page as ‘high-risk items’ along with soiled clothing etc. and it is suggested that they should be washed at 60ºC with a bleach-based product. I always iron tea towels and it’s not to make them look smart. I’m happy to continue to discuss the problems associated with lower washing temperatures but please can we do this on the appropriate Conversation rather than hijacking one on a serious public health issue. 🙂

Whoops …..Apologies for not making myself clear. Perhaps I should have said that apples can stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. 11.41pm is not the best time of day for me to engage in such complexities. Way past my bedtime!

Beryl – You have me really confused now. Indigestion is caused by gastric acid causing irritation, so I cannot understand how producing more of it will help relieve the discomfort.

Wavechange: There are a number things that cause indigestion which are very complex and which I am not qualified to discuss and in any event may involve going off topic. But suffice to say if gastric juices are somewhat depleted due to the ageing process, common sense tells me that you are going to need more of it in order to assist in the digestive process (and to combat bugs) or the alternative is to eat a very restrictive diet There are a number of foods that can stimulate hydrochloric stomach acid (HCL) and you may be interested to learn that ginger is one of them!!! There is a list that can be found on http://www.foodscout.org/benefits/hydrochloricacid.

Younger people who have sufficient HCL can normally cope unless they habitually overindulge in or eat “bad” foods which would probably set up a need for the stomach to overproduce HCL causing the acid reflux and discomfort most of us are familiar with. I suppose it’s about adjusting to life’s challenges (stresses) and changes as we age and “listening” to what your body is trying to convey to you but I fear we are veering too far from the main topic although very interesting nevertheless.
I would agree PPI’s are not to be recommended for reasons you have already stated.

PPIs are effective drugs that have provided relief from pain and discomfort. I think we need to focus on reducing the risk of Campylobacter and other types of food poisoning.

As far as I am aware, the main risks of Campylobacter are undercooked food or contamination of food that will be eaten raw or has already been cooked. I’m not aware of it being a serious problem where people are working on the production lines where the carcasses are processed. There have got to be ways of cutting down the risk, hopefully to the extent that it is no longer considered hazardous to rinse chicken before cooking it.

Charles says:
7 August 2014

I’m not sure I agree with the call here. Firstly, and this is something the article misses out – properly cooking chicken eliminates the threat of campylobacter.

Secondly, the investigation by the FSA is currently NOT FINISHED. It would be irresponsible to ‘name and shame’ supermarkets at this stage.

Finally – is naming and shaming the way forward? It would saddle one or two supermarkets with incredibly bad press – you know the media will run the story as X is the worst etc. This is a problem for all retailers and especially the suppliers. Tighten up the regulations, call for more rigorous testing. But ultimately you don’t want to distract from the message that properly cooking your chicken is the best thing you can do to avoid food poisoning.

Charles, I am sure, as you say, proper cooking is necessary. However the WHO report says that even cooking may not destroy it – there is evidence of some heat resistance.

Charles says:
8 August 2014

Thanks Malcolm – I hadn’t read the WHO report in detail but you’re right – and that under cooking is not a main route for contamination compared with handling of raw chicken.

I’m not sure which WHO report we are discussing, presumably this one, published in 2012: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/80751/1/9789241564601_eng.pdf

This mentions the need to cook food to 70C, which is a common recommendation for safe cooking of food. The practical problem is that it can be difficult to ensure that the entire chicken etc attains this temperature, particularly when cooked rapidly. In catering establishments it is standard practice to use temperature probes to check that the required temperature is achieved.

The main problem with heat tolerance of bugs in food is Gram positive spore forming bacteria from the genera Bacillus and Clostridium. For example, boiling rice kills the bacteria but the spores of Bacillus cereus will germinate and produce more bacteria, even if the rice is kept at 55C.

One of the many reasons I am now a vegetarian

I seem to remember reading somewhere that a large proportion of E-coli poisoning comes from vegetables and there was a major outbreak from bean sprouts I believe. So you can’t win !!

Rob says:
7 August 2014

Yes on the TV show Food Unwrapped they said Bean Sprouts are more dangerous than Oysters. Make sure you never eat them raw and cook them thoroughly.

Bear in mind that animal waste is used a fertiliser, so it’s a good idea to wash vegetables etc. that are not going to be cooked, even bags of salad that claim to have been washed.

Raw meat should be kept in leakproof containers at the bottom of the fridge to avoid contamination of other food.

Some bacteria produce heat-stable toxins that are dangerous and will not be destroyed by cooking. If there is any suspicion that food has started to ‘go off’, don’t assume that cooking will make it safe to eat.

Is campylobacter bacteria contained on the surface of the chicken or within the actual meat or both as I fail to understand the need to wash it if the bacterium is just in the chicken meat when the need to thoroughly cook it would be more important? Also does freezing chicken meat kill off any bacteria or is it able to survive the freezing process?

What goes around usually comes around so perhaps campylobacter is natures way of combating mans cruel practice (hopefully now banned) of keeping battery sheds full of chickens for their egg production, destined never see the light of day or move at all during their short life until they die.

That’s a really interesting question, Beryl. I don’t know if the meat itself contains significant amounts of bacteria. It’s known that chickens can carry Campylobacter in their intestines without showing any signs of illness and their faeces will be heavily contaminated. Other birds will eat food contaminated by this waste and their feathers will become contaminated too. The process of removing the innards of dead birds will contaminate carcasses of birds that have survived internal contamination during their short lives. The fact that most chickens on sale present a risk of Campylobacter infection shows that there are serious problems in animal husbandry and processing of the birds after they have been killed. Carcasses should be thoroughly cleaned before they are packaged. I wash whole chickens very carefully, just in case I get one covered in filth and faeces.

Freezing cannot be used to kill off bacteria. In fact freezing under suitable conditions is one of the ways that microbiologists use to store stocks of bacteria for decades.

There is a lovely YouTube video showing a farm with chickens running around on green grass under trees, intended to convey confidence in where McDonalds source their eggs. I don’t imagine that many free-range chickens enjoy these conditions.

Thanks for the explanation Wavechange. It would seem that removing the chickens innards and intestines is responsible for causing cross contamination by man during the husbandry process.

I have seen the McDonalds Advert on YouTube also a second one which indicates that battery hens still exist in the USA, one reason being the birds faeces are dropped straight into a tray underneath thereby avoiding any contact with other faecal material from other birds whereas free rangers are more likely to come into contact with faeces from others. I am not sure whether battery sheds still exist in the UK but if chickens were properly cleaned during husbandry maybe there would be no further need for them.

I should add that I am in no way connected to any animal rights groups, nor am I a vegetarian, I just hate to see anything with a face suffering unnecessarily.

It is interesting to compare the videos and other information put out by those in the industry and by pressure groups opposed to the activities of certain companies. It’s difficult for those with no involvement to know what is really happening. It had not even occurred to me that free-range birds might have more opportunity to get covered in their own muck.

I’m not a vegetarian either but I don’t eat as much meat as most people and chicken has been off the menu since we started this Convo.

The problems really arise when you DO fall ill. I caught Campylobacter from supermarket chicken 2 years ago. After 4 days I rang NHS Direct for the first time ever, as I knew that this was no ordinary tummy upset. After explaining that I had green diarrhoea; could not eat; or barely drink; and was feeling very ill, the NHS Doctor told me that I had to eat and to go and make egg on toast!! 2 days later I rang my local surgery and asked if a GP could ring me when free. By then I could hardly stand; I was extremely weak and dizzy; disorientated; and was lying on a rubber sheet and old towels. The receptionist decided that it could be dealt with by a Nurse, and the Nurse advised me over the phone, to wait another few days even though I explained that I couldn’t face another 24 hours. Eventually a sample was tested, Campylobacter diagnosed, and anitibiotics given. I improved after 1 month. I never saw a Doctor. I am 70 and looking back I nearly died.

John Kemp says:
9 August 2014

Surely it is the responsibility of the food standards agency or the appropriate body to ensure that all food is safe to eat.
Food corporations and suppliers will always put profits before safety if they are allowed to do so.
‘Which’ should be using its influence by getting the government to strengthen the rules that protect the consumer from unsafe food.

Les says:
9 August 2014

Although I do eat chicken occasionally, I almost daily feed my dog cooked chicken together with a good quality mixer food. Sometimes I buy dog food with chicken as the main protein ingredient. After reading this I am now concerned about feeding my dog chicken, especially as she seems to get a bloated abdomen for no apparent reason; is campylobacter known to be a danger to dogs also?

I don’t know if Campylobacter is a danger to dogs, but pets can carry Campylobacter and other hazardous organisms and may show no symptoms of illness. Here is a summary provided by the NHS: http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2451.aspx

Anyone with pets should be especially careful about washing their hands before handling food.

I stopped eating chicken when flying many years ago. Used to get very bloated and windy after eating.
The air quality in a plane definitely goes downhill after meals.

Continuing with my concern that the widespread prescription of proton pump inhibitors (e.g. lansoprazole) to suppress acid production may affect susceptibility to Campylobacter and other infections related to food poisoning, I found a brief mention in an article published by the Food Standards Agency.

“Additional important findings in the case-control study were that self-reported previous 120
Campylobacter infection and recent use of proton pump inhibitors were associated with a greater risk of infection, as was the recent introduction of pet dog into household.”

I had campylobacter about 20 years ago after eating a chicken meal served at a works social club. After that experience, it is something I never want to get it again and something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies! I seriously thought I was going to die. Ever since, I have been wary of chicken and I never eat any that I haven’t (thoroughly) cooked myself.

Edward Little says:
9 August 2014

I can’t understand how the producers and retailers are allowed to sell a product that is contaminated with a potentially lethal bacterium!
If they were contaminated with Ebola there’noway they would be allowed to be sold!
It’s about time the Government stepped in to protect the public from any foodstuff that is dangerous. If there is an outbreak of food poisoning the originator (eg small butchers or retail shops) are prosecuted and closed down. Why not the Supermarkets and chicken producers then? Too politically powerful perhaps?

Eileen C says:
10 August 2014

I have always been very careful with all meats ,but this has really put me off chicken.
As it happens I always boil my kitchen cloths and T towels.

Back in 82 I was working for a well known supermarket S and I became ill with this infection to the point I was an ambulance case and put into isolation ward for 2 weeks. My young sons were ok but I still think one of the chicken pies I had eaten which I bought from there and cooked was the problem. A woman in the next ward had eaten the same food too I was told . The supermarket had an inspection, in case it was a lunch time food I may have had in the canteen too and they never let me forget I was a trouble maker once I returned and made my life a misery to the point I ended up leaving rather then transferring when I remarried and moved. I have often asked myself how come my sons did not get it and how come it made me so ill. I have always been fussy about my dishcloths and tea towels being changed daily and hot washed and inclined to say no to eating or a cupper in some homes where the cloth looks like it has been used and not washed for days on end.
Now reading about the acid control making me more at risk is worrying as I have been on those now for years after this event. I do not eat the cheaper chicken or ham/ pork in supermarkets, it causes me upset stomach and I dread foods at an event in case it is that cheap type, no idea what causes it, I thought it could be penicillin or what the animals are being fed on, but maybe it is the standards of breeding and why free range may be just a bit safer for me even if I have to pay more and just buy this for myself as I could not afford to buy for all at this higher price.

renniemac says:
10 August 2014

I read with interest the post from dieseltaylor. I was a nurse for 25 years and always wash certain items at 60c. this is because certain germs can survive below this temp. I was shocked when I saw the adverts for well known detergents saying to wash at 30c to save energy. bacteria cannot be killed at such a low temp, but oh! wait a minute, have they not just brought out a new product which you put into the machine to kill bacteria when washing at 30c. well lets look at the evidence here.. No1… wash at 30c save energy, buy expensive germ killer for wash.
No2….wash at 60c kill bacteria.
I think the detergent companies are coining it in with option 1… just do what your granny taught you. wash at the highest temp possible, that will kill these nasties. don’t be fooled by the big companies they view the info they give based on economics, their economics. the bottom line PROFIT!


Your suspicions may be cynical/groundless but the 2011 report ” Effectiveness of Low-Temperature Domestic Laundry on the Decontamination of Healthcare Workers’ Uniforms” recommends the 60C wash.

I will not repeat anymore of the findings here as some posting here feel that this subject is not suitable for the thread but remain on the one for washing machines that do not wash at a claimed 60c.

I think completely the opposite as anyone suffering the effects of campylobactor food poisoning will surely want to the best possible hygienic wash during and after after the event.

I expect that every parent using reusable nappies will know about the need to disinfect them before washing but I wonder how many would do the same with clothing, bedding and anything else that has been in contact with a Campylobacter or other infection.