The UK Food Standards Agency has announced that it is suspending its current yearlong survey of Campylobacter on retail chickens because changes in poultry processing have caused problems with the analysis of results from the current test protocol.
The problem is that the Agency has been testing for Campylobacter levels by taking samples from the neck skin of chickens, because the highest levels of contamination are usually found on this part of the bird. But more and more processors are now removing the neck skin before sale.
While this leads to lower contamination levels and is generally good news for the consumer, it makes comparisons with previous survey results and between retailers increasingly problematic. This means that the progress being made by retailers in the drive to reduce contamination levels is much harder to assess.
Therefore the Agency has suspended the survey while the methodology is reviewed. Results for the third quarter of the survey will be published in May, but will not be broken down by retailer. It is hoped that sampling will begin again in the summer with a revised test protocol.
More information can be found here.