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Wednesday, 14 March, 2001, 10:37 GMT
Rinsing process 'kills chicken bugs'
Cooked chickens
Sainsbury's say they can reduce bacteria by 95%
A supermarket giant has developed a process it says will kill bacteria on raw chicken, making it safer to eat.

Sainsbury's have announced that they will use a unique system to wash their chicken in hot water.

Last week, Which? magazine tests found more than one in five chicken products sold in Sainsbury's were contaminated with the bacteria, which can cause headaches and dizziness.

Sainsbury's claim the new system will reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter by 95%, without destroying the taste of the meat.

They hope this will rise to a 99% reduction once the process has been fully developed. A complete elimination of bacteria can only be achieved through cooking.


It is not about changing the product in any way and simply uses hot water to kill the bacteria

Alec Kyriakides, chief microbiologist, Sainsbury's

Alec Kyriakides, Sainsbury's chief microbiologist, said the process was fundamental in tackling food safety.

Using hot water

He said: "This is all about reducing the burden on the consumer in terms of food handling and preparation.

"It is not about changing the product in any way and simply uses hot water to kill the bacteria.

Tips for handling and preparing raw poultry
Raw poultry should always be stored and prepared separately from other food
Hands should always be washed after handling raw poultry and meat
Poultry should always be cooked until the juices run clear

"Precautions should still be taken when handling and cooking poultry but the development of this process ensures that the best possible balance of quality and safety is achieved before the product reaches the customer in store."

Mr Kyriakides said the key to killing the bacteria without cooking was to make sure the chicken was washed in the correct temperature of water for a specific length of time.

Sainsbury's will carry out customer trials before the product goes on sale.

Last August Sainsbury's produced the UK's first in-shell pasteurised eggs.

Alec Kyriakides Sainsbury's Chief Microbiologist
Alec Kyriakides: Reducing bacteria with hot water

The eggs are gently heated to destroy Salmonella, making them safe to eat in raw egg recipes -these are now on sale in selected stores.

Poultry has been blamed for almost a quarter of food poisoning outbreaks in recent years - more than any other type of food.

Campylobacter is found in undercooked meat and poultry, untreated milk and water.

It can take up to 10 days to develop and can last around a week.

There were 61,716 cases reported in 1999.

Salmonella is found in undercooked foods or foods contaminated by raw foods. Symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain and high temperature.

It can take four days to develop and may last for three weeks. There were more than 20,000 cases reported in 1999.

A spokesman for the Food Standards Agency said they welcomed any moves to try and improve the safety of food.

He said: "We welcome any thing that reduces any serious bacteria in poultry.

"But we can't comment on how effective it will be until we have more information on it."

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See also:

10 Feb 01 | Health
Salmonella infection cases drop
11 Sep 00 | Health
Man dies from 'fast food bug'
28 Jul 00 | Health
Tough targets on food poisoning
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