A new study published by the Food Standards Agency in the UK revealed that most chickens sold in that country tested positive for the presence of campylobacter bacteria.
The study is the first part of a year-long survey of campylobacter on fresh chickens. According to the FSA, its number one food safety priority was tackling campylobacter contamination on poultry.
The results showed that 18 per cent of chickens tested positive for campylobacter above the highest level of contamination (above 1,000 colony forming units per gram). The study further found that 70 per cent of the chickens tested positive for campylobacter and 6 per cent of packaging tested positive for campylobacter with only one sample at the highest level of contamination.
So far, 1,995 samples of fresh whole-chilled chicken had been tested out of a planned 4,000 samples and though there was a variation in test results among retailers, none were meeting the end-of-production target for reducing the pathogenic bacteria.
The results showed an increase in contamination from the first quarter to the second quarter, which could be due to the fact that second quarter included the summer months, when an increase in campylobacter was seen due to warmer weather.
The bug is the biggest cause of food poisoning in the UK, responsible for 280,000 cases of diarrhoea and vomiting each year and around 100 deaths, reported.
Supermarkets had vowed to work towards a solution, however change would be long coming and campylobacter was not the only danger lurking in our food.
The FSA report not only pointed to campylobacter on chicken, but on the outside of the packaging too, so with a pre-packaged chicken one needed to treat the packaging as though one was touching the chicken itself.
It should be kept separate from other food shopping and wrapped in a separate carrier bag.
Once home, the chicken or poultry should not be washed as it would splash bacteria all over the kitchen and in 2 hours 1,000 bacteria could become millions. Washing would not give any benefit as bacteria are killed by cooking the chicken properly.
On unwrapping the packaging should be thrown away and the bird put straight into whatever it was being cooked in.