The results are in – three out of four supermarket chickens could be infected with Campylobacter. It’s time for supermarkets to take urgent action to make your chicken safe.
In July last year, we launched our campaign to make chicken safe, calling on the Food Standards Agency to make public the results of their quarterly microbiological survey of supermarket chickens.
At the time, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) was planning to withhold publishing the quarterly results of the testing and we would have been none the wiser for another year about just how contaminated supermarket chickens are with potentially deadly bacteria.
Today the FSA has published its full report into the last year of testing chickens. The results are shocking and stark – the supermarkets need to rapidly improve what they are doing to tackle Campylobacter so that the chicken on their shelves is safe. Steve Wearne, the FSA’s director of policy, said:
‘The FSA’s retail survey has been an important part of the FSA’s work to tackle Campylobacter. Thanks to the focus the survey has put on the industry, retailers and processers are starting to invest in new interventions to tackle the bug.’
Most contaminated chickens
While it’s encouraging that some supermarkets are making headway now, we’re still dismayed at the lack of progress.
The FSA report found that three in four chickens tested positive for Campylobacter and nearly one in five chickens had the highest level of contamination. However, you’re not even safe when browsing the shelves – 7% of chicken packaging tested positive for Campylobacter.
The industry and FSA agreed a target for reducing the number of the most contaminated chickens to less than 10% by the end of the year. All the supermarkets need to take urgent action to meet that target.
The FSA’s report notes that Asda has the highest proportion of chickens most infected with Campylobacter (30%). Tesco is the only retailer getting close to meeting the target at 13%, but even they have a way to go. We called for the supermarkets to publish farm to fork plans, with eight of the 10 of the major supermarkets doing so. Now they need to deliver on those plans.
It’s estimated that 280,000 people fall ill with Campylobacter poisoning each year. There are no acceptable excuses for the lack of progress that’s been made. Supermarkets and chicken processors must act and reduce levels to meet the FSA’s target by the end of this year.