Food Standards Agency chiefs have said they will now ‘name and shame’ retailers in its quarterly campylobacter survey results.
In its second u-turn over the issue in less than two months, the agency today (5 September) said it would name retailers who sold chicken that had tested positive for campylobacter contamination.
It had pledged to do so when it announced the survey in March, but later backtracked on these plans, saying retailers and processors would not be named until the full annual results were published next year. The first set of quarterly results – published in July – showed only cumulative data from across the trade.
FSA policy director Steve Wearne today said a single set of quarterly data would not have been robust enough to name retailers. “Since then, double the number of samples have been collected, which better reflects the situation across the country,” he added.
The next set of quarterly data will be published in November, with the remaining quarterly results published in February 2015 and April 2015, and a final report of the whole survey in July 2015.
All future quarterly publications will name the major retailers against their summary sample results, while suppliers will not be identified until the final report. This, said an FSA spokesman, was because the survey was intended to focus on retail.
The 12-month study is looking at prevalence and levels of campylobacter contamination on fresh whole chilled chickens and their packaging. Researchers are testing 4,000 samples of whole chickens bought from UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers.
Results will be used by the FSA to determine if changes in practice across the poultry supply chain are reflected in a reduction of contamination at retail.
The first quarterly results found campylobacter in 59% of fresh shop-bought chickens – and on the outside of the packaging of 4% of birds.