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Supermarkets urge proper cooking to eradicate bacteria after food poisoning scare

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It follows a report published by the Food Standard’s Agency (FSA) yesterday (Thursday) which revealed that none of the UK’s main supermarket giants were meeting end-of-production targets for reducing campylobacter, a food poisoning bacteria most commonly found in raw meat, and particularly in raw poultry.
While reducing levels of campylobacter in food is among the FSA’s top food safety priorities, it is being stressed proper and thorough cooking will remove all traces of the bacteria.
Residents are also urged not to wash fresh chicken before it is cooked and to prepare it with clean hands.
Results from FSA’s survey so far, which began in February this year and will conclude next February, showed that 18 per cent of chickens nationally tested positive for campylobacter above the highest level of contamination, 70 per cent tested positive for the presence of campylobacter and six per cent of packaging tested positive for the presence of campylobacter.
Of supermarkets available in West Berkshire, the Co-Operative had the highest traces of the bacteria, with 73 per cent of its chickens tested proving positive for contamination, and 19 per cent above the highest level of contamination.
Marks & Spencer followed, with 67 per cent testing positive, and 22 per cent above the highest level, followed by Waitrose (69, 16), Sainsbury’s (69, 14) and Tesco (64, 11).
A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s said: “Campylobacter is a naturally occurring bacteria which is easily controlled by common-sense food hygiene measures. Proper cooking will kill it completely.
“We’re committed to reducing campylobacter in the supply chain through cutting edge technology and close collaboration with suppliers – but we also share best practice on kitchen food safety with customers so they can always prepare chicken safely”.
A Tesco spokeswoman added: “Providing safe food is always our absolute priority.
“Tesco is committed to the reduction of the industry-wide issue of campylobacter in poultry.
“We were one of the first retailers to introduce more robust leak-proof packaging in 2011, and continue to work with suppliers to try and keep flocks free of campylobacter and implement best practices with processors.
“We are supporting a wide ranging programme of work with our suppliers assessing new innovations to ensure we remain at the forefront of any developments to reduce campylobacter further in raw poultry.”
Tesco is also taking increased measures to inform its customers of the risk. In December, labelling on raw meat packaging will be made more prominent and will include a new ‘do not wash’ label.

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