The Co-op Group is responding to fears over food safety issues such as campylobacter by adopting roast-in-bag packaging on all its whole chickens from January.

Retail CEO Steve Murrells said the decision to repackage its entire range followed a marked shift in consumer demand and was a “first” by a UK retailer.

The move follows national media claims this week that supermarkets were knowingly selling campylobacter-contaminated chicken, and comes just a week before the FSA publishes the results of its second survey of campylobacter on shop-bought chickens, which will include a breakdown of results by retailer.

Murrells said the range, which is supplied by 2 Sisters Food Group, would support customer food safety by eliminating the need to handle raw chicken, which limited the potential spread of bacteria, and aided convenience.

“This step underlines our commitment to customer convenience and food safety,” added Murrells, who said shoppers had “told us it will make cooking easier.”

The FSA welcomed The Co-op’s repackaging. Policy director Steve Wearne said the regulator was “looking to retailers and their suppliers to introduce a range of actions to help reduce the risks to customers from potentially harmful food bugs, especially campylobacter”.

Innovation in packaging and processing was “key to mitigating the risk of campylobacter”, said Andy Dawkins, MD at Faccenda Foods, which also produces cook-in-bag chickens.