The number of supermarket chickens contaminated with food poisoning bug campylobacter is continuing to fall, according to the Food Standards Agency.
Figures from 2016-17 showed only 6.5% of fresh UK-produced chickens tested positive at the highest contamination level, down from 19.7% in 2014-15.
And from April to July, the last period of the survey, 5.9% had high levels, down from 6.5% in the previous quarter.
Campylobacter is the leading cause of food poisoning in the UK.
It makes 280,000 people ill each year.
While 5.6% of the affected chickens were sold by the biggest nine supermarkets, 17.1% came from smaller retailers and butchers.
The supermarkets with the lowest prevalence were Waitrose (2.7%), Morrisons (2.9%) and Tesco (4.2%).
Eating chicken safely
Chicken is safe as long as consumers follow good kitchen practice:
- Cover and chill raw chicken
- Do not wash raw chicken
- Wash used utensils
- Cook chicken thoroughly
The FSA has been reporting the percentage of contaminated chickens sold by the nine biggest supermarkets since 2014.
The watchdog’s chair, Heather Hancock, said the results showed “the significant progress the industry has made in reducing campylobacter levels in chicken, compared with their starting point”.
She added: “The major retailers are now taking on the responsibility to publish their own results, according to a protocol we have agreed. This is a welcome step towards greater transparency.
“Whilst we will keep a close eye on the performance of bigger retailers, it means the FSA can now focus our efforts on smaller establishments, where we haven’t yet seen the same level of improvement and where more progress needs to be made.”