UK – New research has found 24 per cent of supermarket chicken and pork samples test positive for a type of E. coli that is resistant to the ‘critically important’ modern cephalosporin antibiotics, a level four times higher than was found during a similar study in 2015.
The study, commissioned by the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics and carried out by scientists at Cambridge University, looked at 189 UK-origin pig and poultry meat samples from the seven largest supermarkets in the UK (ASDA, Aldi, Coop, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose).
The highly resistant ESBL type of E. coli was found on meat from all of the supermarkets.
Dr Mark Holmes, from Cambridge University, who led the study said:
“I'm concerned that insufficient resources are being put into the surveillance of antibiotic resistance in farm animals and retail meat.
We don’t know if these levels are rising or falling in the absence of an effective monitoring system.
These results highlight the need for improvements in antibiotic stewardship in veterinary medicine.
While some progress has been made we must not be complacent as it may take many years before we see significant reductions in the numbers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in farms.”
Chairman of the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) alliance, Gwyn Jones, said:
"The farming industry must also play its part to control spread of resistance.
This is why RUMA announced in May it is setting up an industry task force to look at how meaningful targets can be developed to replace, reduce and refine antibiotic use in UK agriculture.
That group is now being formed and a first meeting will be held shortly.”
The British Poultry Council commented that the poultry sector has reduced its use of antibiotics by 44 per cent since 2012, but added that resistance is complex and efforts are continuing to address this.
“How best to do this is just one of the incredibly difficult questions we and the scientific community are trying to answer,” the organization said.
The Council added that good hygiene practice in cooking and handling the meat will kill the E. coli.
Here in the USA there are currently advertisements on TV, Radio and in print where Sanderson Farms states that "Chickens must be antibiotic free at the time of butchering".
What they are neglecting to state is that these chickens are fed, from birth to 2 weeks prior to processing, antibiotics and arsenic both aimed at keeping diseases and infestations at bay.
Being informed is always the best way to make good decisions about what foods you want to put into your body.
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 4 years ago
I see more and more chicken (and chicken products) here in the U.S. stating on the label that they are antibiotic-free. But, this begs the question "Does this mean they were never fed antibiotics, or are they merely cutting out the use a few weeks prior to butchering?"
In the USA antibiotic free means that they were finished without antibiotics, not that they were never given antibiotics.
If you read just about any commercial chicken feed ingredient list, you will find antibiotics and arsenic listed as additives.
Here is what the USDA says on their site:
Hormones & Antibiotics
No hormones are used in the raising of chickens.
Antibiotics may be used to prevent disease and increase feed efficiency.
Before the bird can be slaughtered, a “withdrawal” period is required from the time antibiotics are administered.
This ensures that no residues are present in the bird’s system.
FSIS randomly samples poultry at slaughter and tests for residues.
Data from this monitoring program have shown a very low percentage of residue violations.
Additives are not allowed on fresh chicken.
However, if chicken is processed, additives such as MSG, salt, or sodium erythorbate may be added but must be listed on the label.
As on any perishable meat, fish or poultry, bacteria can be found on raw or undercooked chicken.
They multiply rapidly at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F (4.4 °C and 60 °C) -- out of refrigeration and before thorough cooking occurs.
Freezing doesn’t kill bacteria but they are destroyed by thorough cooking.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has a zero tolerance for certain pathogens, including Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes, in cooked and ready-to-eat products, such as chicken franks or lunch meat, that can be eaten without further cooking.
Most foodborne illness outbreaks are a result of improper handling or contamination when meals are prepared. Sanitary food handling and proper cooking and refrigeration should prevent foodborne illnesses.
Bacteria must be consumed on food to cause foodborne illness.
They cannot enter the body through a skin cut.
However, raw poultry must be handled carefully to prevent cross-contamination.
This can occur if raw poultry or its juices come in contact with cooked food or foods that will be eaten raw, such as salad.
An example of this is using a cutting board to chop raw chicken and then using the same board to chop tomatoes without washing the board first.
The following are some bacteria associated with raw chicken:
• Salmonella Enteritidis may be found in the intestinal tracts of livestock, poultry, dogs, cats, and other warm-blooded animals.
This strain is only 1 of about 2,000 kinds of Salmonella bacteria; it is often associated with poultry and shell eggs.
FSIS requires poultry establishments to meet Salmonella performance standards as a means of verifying that production systems are effective in controlling contamination by this pathogenic organism.
Agency inspection personnel conduct Salmonella testing in poultry establishments to verify compliance with the Salmonella standard.
• Staphylococcus aureus can be carried on human hands, in nasal passages, or in throats.
The bacteria are found in foods made by hand and then improperly refrigerated, such as chicken salad.
• Campylobacter jejuni is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in humans.
Preventing cross-contamination and using proper cooking methods reduces infection by this bacterium.
As with Salmonella, FSIS requires poultry establishments to meet Campylobacter performance standards and conduct in-plant testing to verify compliance.
• Listeria monocytogenes was recognized as causing human foodborne illness in 1981.
It is destroyed by cooking, but a cooked product can be contaminated by improper handling or poor sanitary practices in food preparation and storage areas.
The risk from L. monocytogenes can increase when it has the opportunity to grow on a food product in storage, so take care to observe “keep refrigerated” and “use-by” dates on labels.
FSIS requires establishments producing ready-to-eat (RTE) poultry products, such as deli meats and hot dogs, to maintain a system of controls that destroy or suppress the growth of the organism.
FSIS verifies that controls are in place and effective at controlling the organism.
• Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a type of bacteria that normally live in the intestines of animals and humans.
There are hundreds of different kinds, or strains, of E. coli some of which can be harmful, but most are not.
Animal meats may become contaminated with this bacterium during the slaughter process.
• The presence of E.coli, although an indicator organism for fecal matter, does not mean the product is, in fact, contaminated by feces.
E.coli that is present in feathers, or environmental contaminants, like dust, can also contaminate a poultry carcass.
As part of poultry inspection procedures, FSIS enforces a “zero tolerance” standard for visible fecal material on poultry carcasses.
It also requires slaughter establishments to perform microbiological testing for generic E.coli on carcasses to verify that slaughter processes are under control for the prevention and removal of fecal contamination.
From the regulatory website verbiage within Bryant R's post: "Before the bird can be slaughtered, a “withdrawal” period is required from the time antibiotics are administered. This ensures that **no residues** are present in the bird’s system." (my asterisks)
And one wonders what the detection limit of the test for the antibiotic is. Also to be remembered is that, if antibiotic-resistant bacteria already arose within the facility processing the chickens, it will still be there even if the withdrawl period was long enough to eliminate all traces of antibiotic. If there is no 'fitness penalty' for maintaining the antibiotic resistance by the bacteria, it can be maintained for some time after removal of the antibiotic from its environment.
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”― Albert Einstein