One of Britain’s most popular starters - chicken liver pâté - can be a source of food poisoning if it is not cooked properly, with more than eight in 10 raw pâtés testing positive for the bug Campylobacter over a two-year testing period.
University of Aberdeen scientists bought raw chicken livers from a typical range of supermarkets and butchers over 24 months. There are an estimated 500,000 cases of Campylobacter infection per year of which more than 15,000 are hospitalised and approximately 75 die as a result.
The lab team also found that 56% of the types of Campylobacter found in contaminated chicken livers matched the 10 most common strains of the bug found in people with Campylobacter poisoning. Another study in New Zealand also showed that 90% of positive Campylobacter chicken liver samples contained the bug in internal tissue. Pâté is a mixture of cooked ground meat and fat minced into a spreadable paste, and must be thoroughly cooked to remove the risk.
Dr Norval Strachan, a researcher into food safety and epidemiology, said: “Some celebrity chefs and many recipes advocate only partially cooking chicken liver to ensure that it is pink in the middle. But this is recipe for disaster because there is a very fine line between cooked and undercooked. If it is undercooked, the consequences are severe as Campylobacter can be a very nasty form of food poisoning especially in a young child or the elderly.”