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A Quarter of Chicken Bought in Supermarkets Contaminated with E. Coli

September 7, 2016

A study by researchers at Cambridge University has found that a 24% of supermarket chickens contain antibiotic resistant E. coli. Strains of the bacteria were present in 22 of 92 samples purchased from seven major supermarkets and included drumsticks, legs, thighs, diced breast and other cuts from whole chickens.

A quarter of the chicken samples were found to contain strains of E. coli classified as extended spectrum beta lactamases (ESBL’s) that make the bacteria resistant to cephalosporins which are used to treat blood poisoning and upper kidney infections. The research was commissioned by The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, a coalition of health, medical, farming, environmental and civil society organisations from across the European Union.

Dr Mark Holmes, who conducted the study told the Daily Mail; “The levels of resistant E. coli that we have found are worrying. Every time someone falls ill, instead of just getting a food poisoning bug, they might also be getting a bug that is antibiotic resistant. I am concerned that insufficient resources are being put into the surveillance of antibiotic resistance in farm animals and retail meat. These results highlight the need for improvements in antibiotic stewardship in veterinary medicine.”

The study results have been released at the same time as investigations are continuing into an outbreak of E coli O157 in South Lanarkshire associated with Dunsyre blue cheese. To date there has been one fatality and 20 confirmed cases 11 of whom have received hospital treatment.