A government food survey released yesterday has found that most raw chicken sold in the UK contains campylobacter, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning. The survey, by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), checked for the presence of campylobacter in over 3,000 samples of fresh chicken, and the results showed that 65% were contaminated with traces of the bacteria.
Campylobacter is estimated to cause 300,000 cases of food poisoning annually. While a number of newspaper reports today described it as a “deadly bug”, only around 70 of these cases are fatal each year.
However, the risk of food poisoning can be avoided by cooking meat thoroughly. This kills any campylobacter it contains. Good food hygiene while preparing raw poultry will prevent the bacterium from spreading to other food.
Campylobacter is a type of bacteria that occurs in poultry, red meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated water. It is the UK’s most common cause of bacterial food poisoning, thought to be responsible for around 300,000 cases each year.
While this new survey suggests that the majority of raw chicken sold contains the bacterium, cooking the meat thoroughly will kill the bacteria and prevent infection. Good food hygiene can also stop the bacteria spreading to other foods that are not going to be cooked.
There are a number of simple ways to prevent food poisoning from campylobacter and other types of bacteria:
There are a number of symptoms of campylobacter food poisoning, including diarrhoea (which can be severe and contain blood) and abdominal cramps. Vomiting is not normally a symptom.
For further information from NHS Choices go to:
The Food Standards Agency also provides information on avoiding food-related illness: