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FSA exempts supermarkets from campylobacter survey

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) will no longer publish results from the nine largest supermarkets as part of its annual campylobacter survey after agreeing for the retailers to publish results on their own websites.

The FSA said the decision was based on the significant progress made by the major retailers and producers in taking action to reduce campylobacter levels in their chicken. It now plans to focus its efforts on smaller establishments, including smaller retailers, independent traders and market stalls, where it believes further improvements could be made.

The latest campylobacter survey, which measures the level of contamination in fresh chicken, found that on average, across the market, 6.5% of chickens tested positive for the highest level of contamination.

Among the nine named retailers the figure was 5%, compared with 16.9% for the ‘others’ group consisting of a number of smaller retailers and butchers.

Among the retailers, the worst offender was Lidl with 9.2% followed by Sainsbury’s with 7.7%. M&S (2.5%) and Waitrose (2.7%) were found to have the lowest proportion of high-level contamination.

The FSA said that future sampling and analyses carried out by the retailers would be in accordance with robust protocols established by the FSA that would also ensure that their published results are comparable.

In addition, the FSA will have access to the raw data from each retailer in order to verify the samples and to determine industry averages, and has reserved the right to comment publically on the results.