Food Safety News reports:

Supermarkets in the United Kingdom have reported mixed Campylobacter in chicken results for the first two quarters of 2023.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) maximum target level is up to 7 percent of birds with more than 1,000 colony-forming units per gram (CFU/g) of Campylobacter.

Data from the retailers covers the first half of 2023 on high findings of Campylobacter in fresh, shop-bought, UK-produced chickens.

Results at Morrisons, Asda, and Sainsbury’s went up while Marks and Spencer recorded lower levels. The percentage of positives varied by quarter at Waitrose and Lidl and stayed the same for Co-op.  

Campylobacter is the most common cause of bacterial food poisoning in the UK, and the dose needed to make people sick can be as low as a few hundred cells.

Tesco has stopped publishing data as it has changed how it monitors the pathogen in chicken, so findings are not comparable with other retailers. Aldi has not updated its related webpage or provided the figures when asked to do so by Food Safety News.

Findings by retailer
Morrisons had 2.3 percent of 86 chickens at the top contaminated level from April to June and 2.4 percent from 84 samples in January to March 2023 compared to 2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Lidl recorded almost 4 percent of birds in the highest category from April to June and 2 percent from January to March 2023. The figure was about 3 percent at the end of 2022.

Marks and Spencer had no samples at the top threshold from April to June. The retailer also had none above 1,000 CFU/g in January and 1 percent each in February and March 2023 from 376 samples. This compares to 1 percent in the maximum category in October, November, and December from the same number of chickens sampled.

Asda reported that 3.6 percent of samples were above 1,000 CFU/g in the first quarter of 2023 and 3.5 percent in the second quarter. This compares to no chickens at this level in the final quarter of 2022.

Sainsbury’s Campylobacter results for Q1 2023 showed 3 percent of chickens had levels above 1,000 CFU/g, compared to 1 percent in Q2 2023 and 1 percent in Q4 2022.

Co-op continued its streak of results that showed no chickens tested were contaminated at levels greater than 1,000 CFU/g. The last time any samples had levels this high was Q3 2021.

Waitrose and Partners had 2 percent testing positive for Campylobacter at levels above 1,000 CFU/g from April to June, compared to 4 percent from January to March 2023 and 2 percent in the final quarter of 2022.

“The key to our good results continues to be the incredibly hard work of our farmers and suppliers combined with our rigorous data gathering and analysis, surveying chicken both at the factory and on supermarket shelves,” said a Waitrose and Partners spokesperson.