Food Poisoning Bug is Found in Two Thirds of Supermarket Chicken
A Food Hazard

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Food Poisoning Bug is Found in Two Thirds of Supermarket Chicken

[Ed. Note: "Cleaning" chicken pieces before cooking will not save lives, chickens or humans. Go vegan!]

By Sean Poulter on DailyMail.co.uk

Nearly two thirds of chicken sold in supermarkets carry the bug that causes most cases of food poisoning in Britain.

Now the Food Standards Agency is calling on stores to reduce contamination levels.

It said 65.2 per cent of all fresh chicken sold in supermarkets across the country is contaminated with campylobacter.

An estimated 440,000 people fall ill and 80 die each year after becoming infected.

Cooking chicken properly and disinfecting contaminated areas kills the bug.

But the number of human cases has leapt by more than 40,000 compared to four years ago.

Yesterday FSA chief executive Tim Smith told the watchdog's board: 'I wrote to the chief executives of the major food retailers - Asda, Sainsbury's, the Co-op, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Morrisons - to highlight the issue of campylobacter in chicken and to request their help in tackling this problem.

'We sense the time is right for retailers to make the sort of changes to buying policies, specifications and future purchasing strategies which will ensure the speediest most effective reduction in campylobacter incidence in their own products.'

The FSA has called on supermarkets to attend an international summit in March looking at ways to clean up chicken. Officials are investigating whether steam cleaning or deep freezing the birds for a short period will eliminate contamination.

In its survey of 3,274 samples of chicken from major supermarkets, the FSA also found strains of the bug resistant to antibiotics had risen from 48 per cent in 2001 to 87 per cent last year.

Andrew Wadge, the FSA's chief scientist, said: 'For a lot of us who are fit and healthy, food poisoning is unpleasant and inconvenient - but for others it is a very serious issue.

'The concern is not limited to eating under-cooked chicken. When you bring it into your kitchen, you may be cross-contaminating your hands and transferring campylobacter to salads and fresh produce.'

Other countries, notably New Zealand, have reduced campylobacter contamination by disinfecting chicken meat with chlorine washes before it reaches the shops but this method is banned in the EU.

The British Retail Consortium said: 'This is a complex issue. The biology of campylobacter is not yet fully understood and, so far, there is no proven single solution.'



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