FSA campylobacter survey: final results

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The FSA has today published the final set of results from its year-long survey of campylobacter on fresh chickens.

Cumulative results for samples taken between February 2014 and February 2015 have now been published as official statistics, including results presented by major retailer. The report can been found via the link further down this page.

The results for the full year show:

  • 19% of chickens tested positive for campylobacter within the highest band of contamination*
  • 73% of chickens tested positive for the presence of campylobacter
  • 0.1% (five samples) of packaging tested positive at the highest band of contamination
  • 7% of packaging tested positive for the presence of campylobacter

*More than 1,000 colony forming units per gram (>1,000 cfu/g). These units indicate the degree of contamination on each sample.

More than 4,000 samples of fresh whole chilled chickens and packaging have been tested. The chickens were bought from large UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers. A full analysis of the survey results, including the publication of the raw data and the full year results for smaller supermarkets and shops, is being carried out by the FSA and will be published later in the summer.

A new survey will start this summer and once again sample fresh whole chickens from all types of shops.

Richard MacDonald, Chair of the ACT Board, said: “I have been impressed by the level of commitment and tangible action being taken by a number of retailers and processors of chicken. I hope we continue to see further progress in our fight to significantly reduce or even eradicate campylobacter on chickens. Individual actions and cross-industry sharing of best practice are starting to have a real and tangible impact.”

NFU poultry board chairman Duncan Priestner said: “We are naturally disappointed in today’s figures. However, we are confident that the recent raft of measures introduced throughout the supply chain to tackle campylobacter should start to see real results in coming months, especially as there is already a great deal of good work going on to explore methods to reduce levels.

“It needs to be stressed that consumers should be assured that following the correct handling, storage, preparation and thorough cooking of raw poultry meat means that it is completely safe to eat.

“However, we realise that this consumer advice is not the be all and end all in tackling the problem. That’s why the NFU and its members have been working closely to reduce the levels of campylobacter in chicken. Our farmers take biosecurity extremely seriously, and the sector is heavily investing in exploring other avenues such as new methods like rapid surface chilling; sonosteam techniques; more on-farm testing; new packaging; new scientific research; the sharing of best practice and much more.

“Ultimately, our industry is committed to ensuring that chicken meat continues to be the number one source of protein on British consumers’ plates and that the poultry industry as a whole, as well as the wider supply chain, is doing all it can to eradicate campylobacter.”



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