The agency found that 59 percent of the birds and 4 percent of the outside of the packaging tested positive.
Campylobacter is the most common form of food poisoning in the U.K., affecting an estimated 280,000 people each year. FSA estimates that four of five cases come from contaminated poultry.
British officials hope that interventions such as improved biosecurity on farms, rapid surface chilling and antimicrobial washes will help reduce the pathogen’s prevalence.
The survey is running from February 2014 to February 2015 and will test 4,000 samples. The first quarter included 853 samples.
Catherine Brown, FSA chief executive, said that the survey “will give us a clearer picture of the prevalence of Campylobacter on raw poultry sold at retail and help us measure the impact of interventions introduced by producers, processors, and retailers to reduce contamination.”
When first announcing the survey, FSA stated that the agency would published findings at a store-specific level — to “name and shame” supermarkets and processors. In late July, the agency walked back from that pledge, deciding instead to wait until the entire survey is completed and publish all the names next summer.
This has upset Which?, a consumer organization calling for FSA to stick to its initial plan and publish the names of retailers “so that consumers are aware of the best and worst performing shops.”
To avoid Campylobacter infection, FSA reminds consumers to cook chicken thoroughly, avoid washing it, store it at the bottom of the fridge so juices don’t drip onto other foods, and wash hands frequently, along with all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken.© Food Safety News