SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT of chicken from smaller retailers is contaminated with campylobacter, new Food Standards Agency research reveals.

And 15% of birds in the same sample had levels above the 1,000 CFU per g of chicken skin – the measure that the FSA uses to defines as the highest level.

The figures come from the agency’s fourth-year survey, which sampled 829 chicken carcasses from non-major retailer shops between August 2017 and July 2018.

It compares with an average of 56.5% of major retailers’ birds testing positive and just 3.9% with the highest level of contamination over the same period.

The smaller stores included smaller retail chains, butchers, farmers markets and some halal suppliers that the FSA considered non-mainstream, despite some supplying major retailers.

The research also reveals the range of contamination in the survey between slaughterhouses.

A separate, larger sample found the percentage of chickens with >1000 cfu per g ranged from 1 % for approval number 9502 (Moy Park, Dungannon) to 19 % for approval number 5007 (Crown Chicken, Weybread)

Rebecca Sudworth, Director of Policy at the Food Standards Agency, said: “Retailers have achieved significant reductions in levels of campylobacter contamination since the retail chicken survey began in 2014.

“The FSA will continue to engage with industry and particularly smaller retailers, butchers and independents to build on this progress.”