The UK Food Standards Agency has issued its latest findings in the campylobacter study, revealing 73% of fresh shop-bought chickens tested positive for the bug.

The year-long study tested 4000 samples of raw chickens bought from UK retail outlets.

Asda was found to have the highest rate of contamination at 80%. Earlier this month the retailer announced it was introducing a steam process, SonoSteam, to some of its chicken production. It claims this can reduce campylobacter contamination in fresh products by as much as 80%.

The Co-op's chickens were found to have the second highest contamination levels at 78%, followed by Morrisons with 76% and Waitrose at 74%. Sainsbury's, Tesco & Marks and Spencer all saw contamination rates of less than 70%.

Morrisons, Waitrose, Co-op and M&S all showed "significant decreases" in the incidence of campylobacter on their raw whole chickens within their own case studies that demonstrate how their plans to reduce levels of campylobacter are working.

"I want to challenge those retailers who haven’t yet demonstrated the impact that M&S, Morrisons, the Co-op and Waitrose are having on reducing campylobacter on chickens on their shelves. We expect all retailers and processors to be achieving the reductions we have seen in these retailers’ figures – that’s the only way we will meet the target we all signed up to," said Steve Wearne, FSA director of policy.

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