The consumer group Which? conducted a series of laboratory tests on supermarket chickens and found; one in five carried a food poisoning bug. A range of whole and partial chickens were sampled from the UK’s leading supermarkets and 18% carried the common form of food related illness bacteria, campylobacter. In addition, 17% were contaminated with listeria and 1.5% had salmonella.
This causes great concern not only for consumers but for restaurateurs, commercial restaurant insurance providers, farmers and suppliers. They all need to ensure the appropriate steps are taken to minimise the contamination of food provided to the public.
The typical symptoms of the common form of food poisoning include a fever, stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhoea. They can last a number of days and the main treatment involves staying hydrated and consuming small, frequent meals containing foods that digest easily like toast, crackers, bananas and rice. People with more serious symptoms and severe dehydration should see their GP.
Three years ago the Food Standards Agency discovered 65% of chickens where contaminated and steps were taken to improve this, however today’s results show current levels of food bugs are still not low enough. In retailer’s defence, the British Retail Consortium has labelled Which? as scaremongers, deterring the public from trusting the quality of the chickens producers and retailers provide. They argue that many bacteria including campylobacter naturally occur in the stomachs of many animals.
Provided the chicken is stored at the correct temperature and is fully cooked, the risk of falling ill should be minimal. The British Retail Consortium’s food director, Andrew Opie added, “campylobacter is completely killed by normal cooking so providing people prepare chicken properly and follow sensible hygiene practices, they’re at no risk.”
In response to their scaremongering accusation, executive director at Which? Richard Lloyd said, “While the situation is improving, it is still unacceptable that one in five chickens we tested were found to be contaminated with campylobacter. We want to see the risk of contamination minimised, because for far too long consumers have been expected to clean up mistakes made in the supply chain.”