The results of a new study are being reported today, showing an alarming rate of bacterial contamination on the outside of raw chicken packaging. The study, performed on twenty packages of raw chicken in the UK, found that "eight had food poisoning bacteria on their wrapping while seven chickens were contaminated inside the packet."
In the past raw chicken has been associated with he presence of Salmonella and Campylobacter. While this study encompassed only a small sample size, it drives home again the importance of proper food-handling technique, and the risk of cross-contamination.
Quoted in the Telegraph (UK), an industry spokesperson, Andrew Opie of the British Retail Consortium, had a typically deflective response, "Chicken is perfectly safe if the common sense rules that apply to all raw meat are followed."
Certainly no arguing with Mr. Opie that consumers (and food industry personnel) should use common sense in handling raw poultry. Is it common knowledge though, that the exterior of packages of raw chicken are contaminated at such a high rate? If in fact the results of this study are typical, what are those packaging raw poultry going to do to change it? What are they going to do to educate the consumer?
Here’s a warning I’ll bet we won’t see: "The package you are holding in your hand right now is likely to be covered in food-poisoning causing bacteria."