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Bacteria found in supermarket chicken

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/12/2016

Nearly two-thirds of supermarket chicken has tested positive for campylobacter in a study by a consumer watchdog.

Analysis of 40 fresh chicken products bought from supermarkets by Consumer NZ found 26 had campylobacter.

The bacteria is the most common cause of gastrointestinal illness in New Zealand and last year there were more than 6000 cases.

"The bug's presence in the products we tested doesn't mean you'll get sick from the chicken but it increases the chances," Consumer chief executive Sue Chetwin said.

She said half of campylobacter cases was attributed to fresh chicken.

Those who become infected with campylobacter can suffer from severe diarrhoea and vomiting and in some cases it can be deadly.

Chickens carry the bug in their guts and faeces and it can can survive if raw chicken isn't cooked properly. Poor food hygiene practice can also spread the bacteria, contaminating other foods and food preparation areas.

The NZ test mirrored results of a 2008 study in the UK which found around 65 per cent of raw chicken on sale at supermarkets and butchers was contaminated with the bacteria.

Ms Chetwin said NZ should follow the UK where chicken on sale is tested and has helped reduce rates of the bacteria.

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