Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK and is frequently associated with raw chicken. Food Standards Scotland (FSS) works in partnership with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to tackle Campylobacter, and has been publishing results from a FSA survey on the amounts of contamination on fresh chickens bought from shops and supermarkets across the UK.
The survey was based on measuring the amount of bacteria on the neck skin of the chicken, which is the most heavily contaminated part of the bird. In the drive to reduce the levels of contamination, the industry has started to remove the neck skin from whole fresh chickens before they are placed on supermarket shelves. This is good news for the consumer but means that the FSA is unable to measure the levels of Campylobacter in the same way as before. It has therefore taken the decision to temporarily suspend the survey until a new protocol can be developed which provides a more consistent way of determining Campylobacter levels on retail chicken.
It is important to note that FSA and FSS remain committed to the publication of survey results, and both organisations are also encouraging retailers to publish their own data to demonstrate to consumers the progress they are making to reduce the risks of Campylobacter in chicken.
FSS Chief Executive Geoff Ogle said:
“Campylobacter reduction is our top food safety priority and we will continue to work closely with FSA to keep the pressure on UK retailers and the poultry industry to continue to drive down the levels of contamination on fresh chicken. We are also collaborating with Scottish partners to support our objective to reduce the impact of this bug on public health in Scotland.”
More details of the announcement can be found on the FSA website.