Butchers reassure customers after food poisoning bug found in 75% of chickens tested

UNDER FIRE A report has found 73 per cent of chickens checked carried the bug campylobacter. File image
UNDER FIRE A report has found 73 per cent of chickens checked carried the bug campylobacter. File image
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Butchers have moved to reassure customers after a national report revealed three-quarters of chickens tested were found to have a food poisoning bug.

The Food Standards Agency discovered that many fresh chickens bought at supermarkets and butchers contained the bug campylobacter.

But Graham Reeve, owner of R Reeve butchers in Drift Road, Waterlooville said the meat was safe if prepared properly.

‘If the chicken is cooked properly then the bug is eradicated,’ he said.

‘Most people don’t know that if you put the chicken in the freezer then this will kill off most of the bacteria.’

Campylobacter is usually found in raw or undercooked meat, especially poultry, and in unpasteurised milk or untreated water.

About four in five cases come from contaminated poultry.

The News’ winner of Butcher of the Year Tulls in The Square, Wickham, is known for its fresh and free range produce.

Owner Ben Sawyers said: ‘The fact that we buy free range chicken like most independent butchers means that the chickens are not confined together, which reduces the risk of these diseases.’

Much of the produce bought by independent butchers throughout the region is reared to RSPCA welfare standards.

Steve Humby, owner of Steve Humby butchers in Tangier Road, Copnor ‘It has not affected us – we buy really good quality chicken. The chicken we sell here is RSPCA-minded. I eat the chicken and my grandaughter eats the chicken.

‘I certainly wouldn’t be selling it if I thought it was a danger.’

The FSA found that all of the major retailers failed to reach industry targets to reduce the bug over the period of the study.

Asda had the highest contamination rate of 80.4 per cent followed by Co-op with 78.1 per cent and Morrisons which failed to pass the test at 75.8 per cent.

Steve Dean, owner of Bransbury Park Butchers in Eastney Road, Southsea said: ‘The supermarkets pay so little for the chicken and I think the animal welfare goes out the window.

‘We can say to our customers that we can track our chicken right back to the farm.’

The tests were carried out on more than 4,000 samples of fresh chicken between February 2014 and February this year.

To see our recent article on food hygiene ratings at restaurants around the area click here.