Levels of dangerous campylobacter bacteria on fresh chicken in UK grocery stores are continuing to fall, latest Food Standards Agency (FSA) figures show.

The figures for October to December 2017 show that on average, across the market, 4.5% of chickens tested positive for the highest level of contamination - those carrying more than 1,000 colony forming units per gram of campylobacter.

In the previous quarter (July to September 2017) that figure was 5.14%, also down on the previous three months. 

Samples are taken from the UK’s “top nine” grocery retailers including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose as well as discounters Aldi and Lidl, and The Co-operative Group. 

The Co-op’s latest set of results for October to December 2017 showed that 0% of its chickens tested positive for the highest levels of contamination.

The Co-op has invested in a number of measures to reduce contamination on the farm and in the supply chain and was the first retailer to introduce leak-proof roast-in-bag packaging across its fresh whole chicken range.

Michael Wight, director of policy and science at the FSA said: “It’s good to see that levels of campylobacter found continue on a downward trend. We will continue to monitor the results and procedures of the major retailers and encourage them to maintain the significant progress made so far.”