16 August 2001
Bug found in ‘70% of shop chicken’

By FWi staff

ALMOST 70% of fresh chickens on supermarket shelves are infected with the most common form of food poisoning bacteria, according to a new survey.

An investigation by the BBCs 4×4 series found campylobacter in 69% of chickens tested from Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, Safeway, Somerfield and the Co-op.

Campylobacter can cause severe stomach pains and diarrhoea.

Researchers tested 1000 chickens and discovered that organic and free-range carcasses were just as likely to be infected.

They also found 91% of the infected poultry was carrying the campylobacter jejuni strain, which is the most harmful to the body.

The full results of the programme will be broadcast on Monday (20 August), a day before the Food Standards Agency releases a report on the issue.

Dr Jon Bell from the FSA confirmed in the programme that the agency spends only 600,000 into research on campylobacter.

“The emphasis has just been put elsewhere and undoubtedly campylobacter is a problem now.”

In 1999 there were a total of 86, 316 officially notified cases of food poisoning in the UK, including 54,994 cases of campylobacter.

Meanwhile, US companies are developing massed-produced “cloned” chickens, reports The Daily Telegraph.

Billions of birds could be produced which grow at the same rate, have the same amount of meat and taste the same.

However, normal cloning cannot be used because their eggs cannot be removed and implanted.

Instead, Origen Therapeutics of California wants to bulk grow embryonic stem cells which are injected into the embryo of a fertilised recipient egg.

While these are not technically genuine clones, New Scientist magazine reports that some are already 100% donor-derived pure clones.

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