Shoppers are being warned to wash their hands after picking up a chicken wrapped in plastic, after a study revealed 40 per cent of supermarket samples were contaminated with dangerous bacteria.

Local health officials found evidence of the campylobacter bug on chicken cartons, which can induce vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

The food safety team at Birmingham council surveyed 20 supermarkets, convenience stores and butcher’s shops across the city. They found that eight were contaminated on the outside of the packet.

They also found seven chickens were contaminated inside the wrapping, while one tested positive for salmonella. There was no link between those infected inside and outside the packaging. Both types of bacteria are dealt with by thorough cooking and hand washing.

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