Retailers to be named over campylobacter contamination

Supermarkets and other retailers will be named when the Food Standards Agency (FSA) publishes its next set of data, in November, identifying the amount of campylobacter found on shop-bought chicken.

The agency is currently involved in a year-long survey to establish what the different levels are on raw chicken, as it attempts to drive contamination down.

Its first set of quarterly data, based on about 850 samples, was published in early August. It revealed that 59% of carcasses had campylobacter on them, and 16% were in the highest of four categories.

See also: First quarter campylobacter tests revealed

The FSA had been expected to name the individual supermarkets against their results. But it backtracked on this commitment, saying the sample size was too small to provide a meaningful result.

But now the agency has promised to issue a full set of names when the second quarter’s results are published, to give people “the clearest possible information on the food they buy”.

“We published details about levels of campylobacter found in shop-bought chickens earlier this year, but chose not to name retailers because the data was not robust enough,” said policy director Steve Wearne.

“Since then, double the number of samples have been collected, which better reflects the situation across the country.”

He added that tackling campylobacter was the FSA’s top priority.

The survey, which ends next February and involves more than 4,000 samples, would enable the FSA to determine if changes in supply chain practice were working.

The poultrymeat sector has opposed the publication of names against contamination rates for fear this will be taken out of context by the media.

See more