M&S moves to 100% double-bagging of whole chickens

By Paul Gander

- Last updated on GMT

M&S aims at 100% double-bagging of whole chickens
M&S aims at 100% double-bagging of whole chickens

Related tags Tesco Asda Sainsbury's

With the November test report on campylobacter highlighting levels of contamination on whole chickens in UK retail averaging 70% over six months, at least one retailer said it was on-track to have all its birds wrapped in an ovenable roast-in bag to avoid direct consumer contact with the uncooked poultry.

The task of introducing the heat-resistant polyester packaging, with or without a removable outer layer, was widely recognised as a huge challenge but one which retailers and their suppliers have had time to prepare for.

A spokesman for Marks & Spencer (M&S) confirmed: “Already during November we were ‘double-bagging’ 85% of our whole chickens, and conversations were ongoing with other suppliers to ensure we could achieve 100% by the end of​ [2014].”

Test results

The test results reported by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for M&S chickens showed 67% were contaminated. The FSA also said that the 70% average across all UK retail rose to 80% during the three months up to the end of July 2014.

M&S stressed that FSA guidance on minimising consumer contact with uncooked meat focused on whole chickens. It has no plans to introduce more roast-in-the-bag options for jointed chicken pieces or other poultry.

Retailers have also made on-pack advice not to wash chicken or open the ovenable wrap, very clear.

The 2 Sisters group, which is M&S’s main source of whole chickens, also supplies Aldi, the Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsbury and Tesco. Its task has been to convert the 6M birds it supplies every year to ovenable packaging.


Spokesman Nick Murray confirmed that the company had undertaken to invest £10M in combatting campylobacter, but would not disclose how much of that was directed at packaging.

Film converter FFP Packaging Solutions provides the ovenable polyester wrap for M&S, Asda and other retailers. On the M&S pack, chickens are pre-packed and wrapped in an ovenable bag. Then they are overwrapped.

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