20% of supermarket chickens carry campylobacter

Three years ago, the Food Standards Agency found that 65% of chickens sold in supermarkets were infected with the bug campylobacter. Now, the consumer group Which? Have repeated the lab tests and come up with a new figure.

According to their results, one in five chickens (either whole or in parts) sold in supermarkets carries the common bug that is responsible for many cases of food poisoning in the UK every year. If a person contracts the bug, they are likely to suffer symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea for around five days, although those with fragile health can be affected much more seriously.

While these results show a significant drop in the number of affected birds, Which? has been accused in some quarters of scaremongering rather than raising awareness. The bug is a common one that usually lives in the gut of its host animal, and there are arguments that if food hygiene is respected, infection is unlikely.

Food safety training equips its learners with the knowledge and skills necessary to avoid contamination or infection, and its importance is highlighted by the high number of affected birds. If chicken is kept at the right temperature, handled hygienically and cooked thoroughly, the risk can be effectively reduced.