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article imageCampylobacter rates increase for chickens sold in the U.K.

By Tim Sandle     May 30, 2015 in Health
New figures, produced by the U.K. Food Standards Agency, show a marked increase in the detection of food-poisoning bacteria in chickens sold in British supermarkets.
The headline figure is startling: some 73 percent of fresh chicken, retailed in supermarkets, tested positive for food poisoning bacterium Campylobacter. This was based on a one-year study conducted by an agency of the British government (the Food Standards Agency — FSA.) The figures were released to coincide with the end of the annual Food Safety Week (which took place in May, as reported by Digital Journalist Karen Graham.)
What is worrying about the latest figures is that Digital Journal reported last year on FSA figures, released in November 2014, whereby the contamination rate was 59 percent. Six months on and there has been a 15-percentage-point increase.
One key difference may not be a rise in the contamination rate, but better data. The 2014 results were based on samples taken from 853 chicken products; the new 2015 information is based on samples drawn from over 4,000 chickens.
Both surveys were for the detection of the bacterium Campylobacter jejuni. This bacterium can be prevalent across raw meat, especially where food preparation practices are poor. The risk is, should a meat product like chicken be incorrectly cooked, is from the disease campylobacteriosis. This is manifest as diarrhea or periodontitis.
The risks from young children and the elderly are greatest.
In terms of major British supermarkets, the BBC has analyzed the data and found:
Asda had the highest rate of contamination in fresh whole chickens, at 80 percent.
Below them is the Co-op with 78 percent.
Then Morrison's with 76 percent; followed by Waitrose with 74 percent, Sainsbury's with 70 percent, and Tesco and Marks & Spencer, with rates of 67 percent.
Quoted by the BBC, Richard Lloyd, of consumer group Which?, stated: "It beggars belief that nearly three-quarters of chickens on sale in supermarkets are still infected with this potentially deadly bug and that no retailers have met the FSA's target."
More about campylobacter, Chicken, Supermarkets, Bacteria, food poisioning
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