The food safety watchdog is to name and shame supermarkets that sell chicken contaminated with a dangerous food-poisoning bug after the scandal was exposed by the Daily Mail.
The UK Food Standards Agency has been testing chicken sold in the high street for campylobacter, which is associated with 100 deaths a year and 280,000 food-poisoning cases.
In August, officials said the names of shops involved should be kept secret until at least next summer following lobbying from stores, producers and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs over fears the news would damage the industry.
But following pressure from the Mail, academics and consumer groups, it has agreed to identify them.
The results will reveal which of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, the Co-op, Waitrose, and Marks & Spencer has the highest contamination levels.
The FSA began quarterly surveys of chicken sold on the high street in February to establish the levels of campylobacter. The first revealed that 59 per cent of 853 birds tested positive for the bug.
Some 16 per cent of the roasting birds tested positive for the highest level of contamination.
One in 20 sealed packs of chicken were even contaminated on the outside, suggesting that simply picking them up created a risk.
The FSA said it would be unfair to name the stores because its sample sizes were small and the public would not understand the results.
This from the same agency that thinks the public is too stupid to use a meat thermometer, so goes with piping hot.
Erik Millstone, professor of science policy at the University of Sussex, said: ‘The FSA was supposed to be independent of commercial and political pressures. Recent events show that in practice the FSA was blown off course by industrial and political pressures.’