LONDON (Reuters) - A common food bug that causes thousands of people to fall ill with diarrhoea and abdominal cramps is present in almost two-thirds of the chicken sold in Britain, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said on Tuesday.
A survey found campylobacter, which is responsible for about 55,000 cases of illness in Britain every year, on 65 percent of samples of chicken tested, with salmonella present in 6 percent.
“The continuing low levels of salmonella are encouraging, but it is disappointing that the levels of campylobacter remain high,” said Andrew Wadge, FSA Director of Food Safety.
“It is obvious more needs to be done to get these levels down and we need to continue working with poultry producers and retailers to make this happen.”
The FSA said campylobacter, the most common bacterial cause of food poisoning in Britain, was found on meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated water, but there was evidence that chicken was the most common cause of illness.
However, it said cooking the meat thoroughly killed the bacteria and avoiding cross-contamination reduced the chances of the bug spreading.
The UK-wide survey of fresh chicken at retail outlets was carried out between May 2007 and September 2008. During the course of the survey, 3,274 samples were tested for the presence of campylobacter and salmonella.
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison