Two-thirds of chicken on sale in the UK is contaminated with a bacterium which can cause severe food poisoning, research shows.
Campylobacter, which can cause diarrhoea, cramping and abdominal pain, causes 55,000 cases of food poisoning a year in the UK.
However, cooking the meat properly kills the bug.
Illness caused by campylobacter infection usually clears up after a week. But there is evidence to suggest that it can trigger a life-threatening bloodstream infection in people with a weakened immune system.
An FSA director of food safety, said the poultry industry should take action to try to reduce levels of campylobacter infection as the campylobacter infection rate among chickens reared in the UK was as high as 76%.
The chairman of the British Poultry Council said, “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. We also need to concentrate on finding effective measures to prevent infection in flocks.”
- Campylobacter is the most common bacterial cause of food poisoning, according to the FSA.
- As well as chicken it can be found on other types of meat although undercooked poultry was the biggest problem.
- To ensure that cooking has killed the bug, the bird should be cooked until the juices from it run clear.
The agency set a target in 2005 to deliver a 50% reduction in the prevalence of campylobacter in UK produced chicken on sale in retail outlets by 2010.