Campylobacter is a food bug found mainly on raw poultry and is the most common cause of food poisoning in Scotland. The final set of results from the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) 12-month survey of Campylobacter levels on fresh chicken on sale across the UK have been published today.
More than 4000 samples of fresh whole chilled chickens and packaging bought from large UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers were tested between February 2014 and February 2015. These results show variations between the retailers, but none have met the target set for reducing Campylobacter.
73% of chickens and 7% of raw poultry packaging tested positive for the presence of Campylobacter.
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) considers the reduction of Campylobacter levels found in chickens as an important food safety priority in terms of protecting public health and will be working with others, including the FSA, key stakeholders and consumers, to reduce Campylobacter infection in the Scottish population.
FSS advice to consumers is that chicken is safe as long as good kitchen practice is followed to help avoid cross-contamination and prevent the spread of Campylobacter:
Cover and chill raw chicken - cover raw chicken and store on the bottom shelf of the fridge so juices cannot drip on to other foods and contaminate them with food poisoning bacteria such as Campylobacter
Don’t wash raw chicken - cooking will kill any bacteria present, including Campylobacter, while washing chicken can spread germs by splashing
Wash hands and used utensils - thoroughly wash and clean all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after handling raw chicken
Cook chicken thoroughly – make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut in to the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.
Further information on these results can be found on the FSA website. A full analysis of the survey results will be published later this summer.