FSA steps up testing after more horsemeat foundAfter the first two quarters of a year-long study surveying the presence of campylobacter on fresh chickens, Brain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) says 70 percent of all chickens examined tested positive for the presence of campylobacter.

Tackling campylobacter is FSA’s food safety priority which has led the agency to spearhead a campaign that involves all parties in the food chain to confront the issue.

FSA began a year-long survey in February that tests samples of whole chickens bought from UK retail outlets, stores and butchers.

Since the study began, 70 percent of the chickens were positive form the presence of campylobacter with 18 percent of chickens testing positive above the highest level of contamination.

“These results show that the food industry, especially retailers, need to do more to reduce the amount of campylobacter on fresh chickens,” said Steve Wearne, FSA director of policy. “Although we are only half-way through the survey, 18 percent of birds tested had campylobacter over 1,000 cfu/g, the highest level of contamination...this shows there is a long way to go before consumers are protected from this bug.”

Six percent of packaging tested positive for the bacteria.

While the campylobacter bacteria are killed through cooking, it is the most common form of food poisoning in the UK, affecting approximately 280,000 people a year, according to FSA.

Recent figures show an increase in contamination from the first quarter to the second quarter, though this is likely because of the second quarter’s samples being taken during the summer months.

The survey will conclude in February 2015.