A CONSUMER organisation has called on food chiefs to name and shame retailers after a survey found that almost 60 per cent of fresh shop-bought chickens tested positive for campylobacter.

The food poisoning bug was present in 59 per cent of birds tested, and in four per cent of samples it was found on the outside of the packaging, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which? said: "The FSA's survey reveals unacceptably high levels of campylobacter and they must now publish the names of the retailers so consumers are aware of the best- and worst-performing shops.

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"Campylobacter is responsible for thousands of cases of food poisoning and the deaths of 100 people every year so much more must be done to minimise the risk of contamination at every stage of production."

The 12-month survey, running from February to next February, is looking at the prevalence and levels of campylobacter contamination on fresh whole chilled chickens and their packaging.

The survey will test 4,000 samples of whole chickens bought from UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers.

The new results are for the first quarter and represent 853 samples.

The FSA said previous studies into the prevalence of the bug had also shown around two-thirds of raw poultry carries it.

Campylobacter, which is killed by thorough cooking, is the most common form of food poisoning in the UK, affecting an estimated 280,000 people a year, and the majority of these cases come from poultry.

FSA chief executive Catherine Brown said: "There is still a lot more to be done by all elements of the supply chain to ensure consumers can be confident in the food they buy."