Supermarket chain Asda has reported the worst Campylobacter in chicken findings of the top nine retailers in the United Kingdom in the latest set of testing results.
In the third quarter of 2020, 7.7 percent of chickens tested positive for the highest level of contamination.
It is the second time in three quarters that Asda has recorded levels above the Food Standards Agency (FSA) threshold of 7 percent of birds with more than 1,000 colony forming units per gram (CFU/g) of Campylobacter.
Asda figures for the first quarter (1Q) of 2020 showed 9.2 percent above the top level of contamination while 2Q stats showed 4.1 percent above 1,000 cfu/g.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Lidl results
Tesco data from July to September 2020 represents 300 samples and 2 percent had the highest level of Campylobacter contamination. This is down from 3 percent in April to June and 9 percent in the first quarter of 2020.
Lidl recorded 4 percent of birds in the highest contamination category which is down from above 6 percent in 2Q of 2020 and 5.5 percent in the first three months of this past year.
Sainsbury’s reported 2 percent of chickens sampled were above 1,000 CFU/g compared to slightly more than 4 percent from April to June and around 3 percent in 1Q 2020.
Campylobacter is the most common cause of bacterial food poisoning in the UK and the dose needed to make people sick can be as low as a few hundred cells.
The FSA used to publish figures from the top food retailers on Campylobacter results for fresh shop-bought UK-produced chickens but stopped doing this after the second quarter of 2019.
Data from other retailers
Based on 376 Marks and Spencer chickens in 3Q of 2020, 2 percent were above the maximum category in July, 3 percent in August and 6 percent in September.
From 343 chickens, none were above 1,000 CFU/g in April, 5 percent in May, and 3 percent in June. In the first quarter of 2020, from 333 samples, 6 percent were above 1,000 CFU/g in January, 3 percent in February, and 1 percent in March.
Aldi results for 3Q of 2020 show that 0.6 percent of birds were in the above 1,000 cfu/g category. This is up from April to June when no chickens were in this bracket, but because of COVID-19 restrictions no birds were tested in April. It is down from 2.8 percent in 1Q of 2020.
Co-op results for the latest quarter show 0.9 percent of chickens sampled had contamination at levels greater than 1,000 cfu/g. This is up from zero above the highest recorded levels in the previous quarter but down from 1.8 percent in 1Q of 2020.
A total of 0.88 percent of Morrisons chickens had the highest level of contamination from 114 birds tested. The figure for April to June 2020 was 0.85 percent from 118 chickens tested and 2.7 percent in 1Q of 2020.
Waitrose levels for the quarter were 1 percent of samples above 1,000 cfu/g compared to none in the previous three months.
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