Researchers assessed the incidences of Salmonella or Campylobacter bacteria in raw poultry in British supermarkets.
316 samples of raw fresh chickens and chicken pieces from five supermarkets were tested. The chains investigated were Asda, Safeway, Sainsbury's, Tesco, and Waitrose.
On average, the team found Salmonella or Campylobacterin 16% of the chickens purchased.
Sainsbury's chicken was worst, with 22% harboring one of these bugs, followed by Safeway with 21%.
Tesco's chicken came out best, with only 6% of its chickens contaminated.
|Salmonella or Campylobacter were found in 16% of fresh chickens from British supermarkets.|
Poultry from Asda and Waitrose were infected in 17% and 13% of cases, respectively.
The researchers found that whole birds were just as likely to be contaminated as chicken pieces; and free-range and organic birds were just as likely to be contaminated as standard ones.
In 1996, Which? found that 20% of fresh and frozen chickens contained Salmonella and 37% Campylobacter, compared with the latest figures of 3% and 13%, respectively, for fresh chicken.
An additional undercover inspection of a slaughterhouse revealed many chances for infection to spread between birds during processing. The European Union is currently reviewing food hygiene laws.
Provisional figures for 1999 showed a total of 62,000 reported cases of Campylobacter food poisoning and 20,000 of Salmonella in the UK. The Food Standards Agency has promised to cut the current 'unacceptable' levels of food poisoning by a fifth by 2006, report the authors.