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April 15, 2012
20 Percent of Chickens From Supermarkets Carry Salmonella


One in five chickens sold in supermarkets carries the bug behind most cases of food poisoning. An investigation found that campylobacter and listeria have both been found in was what considered fresh chicken in major grocery retailers.



Campylobacter -- a bacterium blamed for more than 370,000 food poisoning cases a year -- can be killed by cooking chicken properly and disinfecting contaminated areas.

Consumer watchdog Which? tested 192 samples of whole chickens and chicken portions -- standard, free range and organic from Aldi, Asda, The Co-operative, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose in March.

It found bacterial contamination in samples from each retailer.

Which? stressed the study was a ‘snapshot’ as it tested each retailer on two days in different locations and so could not definitively conclude that chicken from one was better than that from another.

But the results are an improvement on 2009, when the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK found 65 percent of fresh chickens it tested were contaminated with campylobacter at the point of sale.

Which? repeated advice not to wash raw chicken as it could splash the bacteria on to the sink, worktops or nearby dishes, increasing the risk of cross-contamination.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: ‘While the situation is improving, it is still unacceptable that one in five chickens we tested was found to be contaminated with campylobacter.

‘We want to see the risk of contamination minimised at every stage of production, because for far too long consumers have been expected to clean up mistakes made earlier in the supply chain.’

Some countries, such as New Zealand, have reduced campylobacter contamination by disinfecting chicken meat with chlorine washes before it reaches the shops but this method is banned by the EU and other nations.

Campylobacter is behind millions food poisoning cases every year around the world and hundreds of associated deaths..

The number of people suffering stomach upsets has risen 43 percent since the 1990s, with FSA figures showing 17million fall ill every year.


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