raw chicken thighs, food-borne diseases

Morrisons performed best in the quarterly test, registering an average of 0%

Instances of supermarket chicken testing positive for the highest levels of campylobacter fell to 3.5% from July to September.

Quarterly tests by the supermarkets revealed the percentage of chickens carrying more than 1,000 colony-forming units per gram of the bug fell by 0.2 percentage points compared with 3.7% from April to June.

Morrisons performed the best, as it registered an average of 0% for the third quarter in a row. Asda performed the worst, with an average rate of 7.1%. This was down from 7.4% during the previous quarter. The FSA’s reduction target is 7%.

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Despite its relatively poor performance, an Asda spokesman pointed to the retailer’s development and implementation of a “comprehensive farm-to-shelf plan that addresses each stage of the supply chain, and we remain fully committed to continuing to refine and further improve our processes”.

Elsewhere, Sainsbury’s (down from 3.8% the previous quarter to 2%), and Waitrose (down from 4% to 3%) both registered falls in contamination.

“The latest figures show further progress being made in our efforts to reduce campylobacter in UK-produced fresh whole chickens,” said FSA director of policy Michael Wright.

“We will continue to build on these encouraging results, working closely with retailers and smaller poultry businesses to bring levels down to as low as reasonably achievable.”