Is shopping the most dangerous thing you can do today?

The latest episode of the BBC consumer programme Watchdog Test House lays bare the shocking health implications of campylobacter in chicken – and how the hidden danger of bacteria on outer packaging could be the biggest danger of all.

Results published recently by the Food Standards Authority found that 73% of chicken sold in UK supermarkets is contaminated with campylobacter  – up from 70% last November.

That statistic is grim enough, but as Sophie Raworth and her team point out, the potentially more worrying statistic is that 7% of the outer packaging of chicken also tested positive for the presence of the bug – up from 6%.  This means that even if you cook the chicken thoroughly when you get home, if the chicken has been in your shopping basket with other grocery items, you still have a real chance of picking up campylobacter on your hands from contaminated outer packaging.

Although a relatively small percentage of bacteria get onto the outer packaging, it only takes a small amount of Campylobacter to make you seriously ill.  And once it’s been transferred from the supermarket shelf into your shopping bag it can be spread to your hands and even directly on to ready to eat foods.

Biomaster has created a new industry standard for the antimicrobial protection of the outside of chicken packaging to protect the consumer from the risk of campylobacter poisoning and is working with the supermarkets and their suppliers to remove this hidden danger. The  Biomaster technology is available for film, trays and lids for chicken packaging and would provide a surface that inhibits the growth of this potential deadly pathogen.

Biomaster has also developed an antibacterial bag for life, which inhibits the spread of bacteria in your bag between shopping trips. Shopping bags can easily become contaminated by the packaging and the produce you place inside them and then re-contaminate other produce.

In studies when Bags for Life have been introduced there is clinical evidence to show that there is a rise in hospital admissions for campylobacter.

Addmaster (UK) Ltd Managing Director Paul Morris explains: “Up to now, all of the education about campylobacter poisoning has been about the danger inside chicken packaging. We believe that the food industry is missing the point. The most dangerous aspect is the 7% on the outside – the danger the public is not aware of.

No one expects the outer packaging to be infected with campylobacter, so no one takes precautions – like washing your hands, for example. The BBC programme backs up what we have been saying since the FSA statistics came out, that supermarkets are allowing dangerous foodstuffs to be sold next to other groceries. If a restaurant kept raw and cooked meat together it would be closed down.

The incubation period for campylobacter poisoning is 4 to 5 days, so when people fall ill they usually blame the last meal they ate. Few people suspect that they could have been poisoned by their shopping trip.”

For the full story watch Series 2 Episode 14 of Watchdog Test House on the BBC Iplayer.

Click here for more information about the Biomaster Antibacterial Bag For Life.

*Please note that Addmaster was acquired by the Polygiene Group AB in January 2021, so all news articles prior to that date will still be branded as Addmaster.