Survey finds lower Campylobacter contamination levels in chickens

| March 4, 2016 UK Food Standards Agency has published results for the second quarter of its latest survey of Campylobacter contamination on fresh chickens from supermarkets and other retailers. The results show a continued decrease in the number of contaminated birds.

The latest survey results relate to fresh, whole, chilled UK-produced chickens and packaging sampled from large supermarkets and smaller independent stores from October to December 2015. A total of 966 samples were collected and tested during the quarter.

The results showed that 11% of the chickens tested positive for the highest levels of contamination (>1,000 cfu/g), down from 19% in the corresponding quarter in 2014 and well on the way to meeting the agreed industry target of 7%. Campylobacter was present on 59% of birds, a significant reduction from the 74% recorded in 2014. Approximately 6% of packaging samples were contaminated.

The Agency puts the improvement down to various measures adopted by the poultry industry, including better biosecurity, decontamination processes and the trimming of neck skins – the site of highest skin contamination levels – from chicken carcases. However, there are concerns that neck skin trimming could also make comparison of the survey results with previous data more difficult and this issue will therefore be reviewed.

The full survey results can be downloaded from the Agency website as a PDF here.

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