It has been suggested that shoppers double-bag their chicken and store it separately to other food in the refrigerator as poisonous bacteria has been located on the outside of the packaging.
A Food Standards Agency (FSA) report, which is due for publication this week, stated that campylobacter, a group of bacteria commonly found on raw chicken, has been found on the outer packaging of thousands of chickens sold in the UK.
In view of this, the FSA will issue warnings that even packaged chicken should now be placed in separate packaging in the fridge and kept away from children.
A spokesman said that the greatest risk is during food preparation. This is when campylobacter is spread to hands and surfaces. However, a warning has been issued to place raw poultry in another bag, as there is the risk that the packaging has been contaminated by the bacteria.
Earlier during this year, the FSA stated that campylobacter is the biggest cause of food poisoning. It has moved ahead of the norovirus and Clostridium perfringens, which is normally linked to shellfish.
A study undertaken by the FSA during August revealed that the bacterium was found on the outer packaging in 4% of cases.
The officials at the agency were so deeply concerned about contaminated chicken that it undertook a survey of the meat available in supermarkets with the express intention of publishing a ‘name and shame’ list on a regular basis. Meat from poultry was linked to the highest incidence of food poisoning, resulting in 244000 cases per year.
When the studies were announced by the FSA in August, it stated that its main objective was to shame the traders in the hope that they would then be forced to act and protect their consumers.
This warning comes a few days after Public Health England recommended to consumers that they should protect against food poisoning by freezing chicken after purchase and defrosting prior to cooking.
It has been found that 60% of chickens sold by the supermarkets contain potentially lethal bacteria, which is responsible for half a million infections annually, with around 100 deaths.
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