On August 16, Britain's food watchdog said that about one in two chickens in UK supermarkets were infected with the most common form of food poisoning bacteria, Reuters reports.
According to the UK Food Standards Agency , campylobacter, which can cause severe stomach pains and diarrhoea, had been found in frozen, fresh, domestic and imported chickens across the country, with higher rates in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
"Levels of campylobacter in chickens are far too high. This is partly because not enough is known about this bug. There is clearly still a lot of work to be done here," Sir John Krebs, chairman of the government agency, said in a statement. "The bottom line is that we will not succeed in reducing foodborne illness if we do not tackle campylobacter," he added.
A survey, carried out between April and June, found that 46 per cent of chickens tested in England were infected with the bacteria, 42 per cent in Wales, 75 per cent in Scotland and 77per cent in Northern Ireland.
It also found that rates of salmonella contamination in chickens had dropped to the lowest level ever recorded, on average 5.8 per cent across Britain. Salmonella, which can prove deadly for young children and people with weakened immune systems, is usually found in eggs, meat and poultry.
"This is very good news for consumers and industry. It shows that the stringent control measures being used by industry are starting to bite in the battle against salmonella," Krebs said.
The agency told consumers to be careful when handling, cooking and storing raw chicken.