Two-thirds of chicken contaminated7th October 2009
Research carried out by the Food Standards Agency has revealed that two-thirds of chicken on sale in the UK is contaminated with a bacterium which can cause severe food poisoning.
With campylobacter causing 55,000 cases of food poisoning a year in this country, the FSA has called on the poultry industry to take action after its findings show levels of the bug has not fallen since 2001 when it last carried out a similar survey.
That compares with falls in salmonella, which is another common cause of food poisoning.
Andrew Wadge, FSA director of food safety, said the poultry industry should take action to try to reduce levels of campylobacter infection.
New Zealand and Denmark have successfully reduced infection rates through measures such as minimising contact between birds at slaughter.
Mr Wadge said: "The continuing low levels of salmonella are encouraging, but it is disappointing that the levels of campylobacter remain high.
"It is obvious more needs to be done to get these levels down and we need to continue working with poultry producers and retailers to make this happen."
The British Poultry Council said that scientific knowledge about campylobacter was incomplete but that the industry needed to concentrate on finding effective measures to prevent infection in flocks.
The FSA tested 3,274 samples of fresh chicken at retail across the UK between May 2007 and September 2008 for the presence of campylobacter and salmonella.
It also said that cooking chicken properly is an effective way of killing the bug.
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