Three-quarters of supermarket chickens contaminated with campylobacter

A NEW FSA report has found that nearly three-quarters of fresh chickens in supermarkets and butchers are contaminated with the potentially lethal food-poisoning bug.

Foodservice Footprint P221 Three-quarters of supermarket chickens contaminated with campylobacter Foodservice News and Information Grocery sector news updates Out of Home sector news  Steve Wearne Marks & Spencer FSA Faccenda Campylobacter ASDA 2 Sisters Food Group













The results are the findings from the first two quarters of a year-long testing programme run by the FSA.


The results to date show:


  • 18% of chickens tested positive for campylobacter above the highest level of contamination
  • 70% of chickens tested positive for the presence of campylobacter
  • 6% of packaging tested positive for the presence of campylobacter


Campylobacter is killed by thorough cooking; however it is the most common form of food poisoning in the UK, affecting an estimated 280,000 people a year. Poultry is the source of the majority of these cases.


Asda had the highest number of infected chickens, followed by The Co-op, whilst Tesco had the lowest. The FSA decided to name and shame retailers individually after more than a decade of trying by other means to get the industry to clean up.


Steve Wearne, FSA Director of Policy, said: “These results show that the food industry, especially retailers, need to do more to reduce the amount of campylobacter on fresh chickens…


“If chicken is cooked thoroughly and preparation guidelines are properly followed, the risk to the public is extremely low.


“There are signs that some retailers are starting to step up to their responsibilities. When more do, we will see the sustained improvements that will help prevent many of their customers getting ill.”


There have been some recent developments in industry and retailer efforts to tackle campylobacter. These include:


  • Marks & Spencer and its supplier, 2 Sisters Food Group, have recently developed a five-point plan, an integrated programme of interventions along the food chain to reduce levels of campylobacter.
  • Asda and its supplier, Faccenda, have committed to an innovative new steam technology (SonoSteam) that has shown promising results in tests and is now being installed at the Faccenda factory for full scale, in line trials.