The report is an analysis of the data from the survey carried out by the FSA between February 2014 and March 2015, which showed the levels of Campylobacter found on fresh, whole chickens sold in the UK.
The results for the full year, as previously published, showed:
- 19% of chickens tested positive for Campylobacter within the highest band of contamination*
- 73% of chickens tested positive for the presence of Campylobacter
- 0.1% (five samples) of packaging tested positive at the highest band of contamination.
- 7% of packaging tested positive for the presence of Campylobacter.
The survey results, which were published on a quarterly basis throughout the year, allowed consumers for the first time to compare the Campylobacter levels found on chickens from all of the major retailers. The final report contains data sets of the results from all of the retailers and includes comparisons between different sized birds.
Campylobacter is a food bug responsible for around 280,000 cases of food poisoning every year in the UK. The FSA has identified it as its leading food safety priority and has been working closely with the food industry to reduce the levels of contamination on raw chickens. The industry is working towards a target, agreed with the FSA, to reduce the number of the most contaminated birds to less than 10% by the end of 2015.
Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the FSA, said:
'The FSA’s retail survey has been an important part of our work to tackle Campylobacter. Thanks to the focus the survey has put on the industry, retailers and processers are starting to invest in new interventions to tackle the bug.
'Our new retail survey, which is already underway, will allow us to track progress and give us an indication of where these interventions are delivering results.'
The FSA has welcomed case studies by Marks & Spencer, the Co-op, Waitrose, Aldi and Iceland showing the results of their campylobacter reduction plans. Their data showed significant decreases in the incidence of campylobacter on their raw whole chickens. The tests were carried out on samples taken later than those from the FSA survey, with some targeted to demonstrate the effect of particular interventions.
The first set of results from the new FSA survey that commenced in July 2015, is expected to be published in November 2015.