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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in Canadian supermarket chicken – What about the U.S.?

jpgAccording to CBC Television, about 67 percent of (presumably Canadian) chicken has harmful bacteria. “Marketplace” researchers tested grocery store chicken for harmful, drug-resistant bacteria and bought 100 samples of poultry from supermarket chains in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. The samples included some of the “most familiar names in the poultry business,” says CBC News.

Lab analysis of the chicken found that two-thirds, or 67 percent, had bacteria. But the surprise wasn’t just the E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria found in the chicken. Rather it was that all of the bacteria were resistant to at least one antibiotic.

Even more frightening, the researchers found some of the bacteria had resistance to “six, seven, or even eight different types of antibiotics.”

In interviews with “Marketplace,” doctors and scientists said that the problem could be the result of chicken farmers giving too many antibiotics to their chickens, to make them stay healthy and speed up the growth process.

One wonders what a similar test would find in U.S. chickens? Sounds like I have might have a new project for 2011?

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    And here in the US for the last 15 years Pediatricians were worried that they were giving young children too many antibiotics for ear infections when perhaps a large cause of antibiotic-resisitance disease could be coming from the chicken and beef that we are eating as a population. Go for it Bill. Sounds like a very worthwhile project for the future and might make a huge difference in the way medicine is currently looking at antibiotic use in humans and in animals to be put into the food supply.

  • Doc Raymond

    Bill, the Consumers Union tests poutlry purchased in supermarkets about every three years or so. In 2005 they found 51% tested positive for pathogens. In 2007 that number had risen to 80%. In January, 2010, they announced the results were slightly improved with 67% having either Campylobacter or Salmonella, with 9% having both. Over 60% of the bacteria were resistant to one or more antibiotics. Tysons and Foster Farms samples were positive over 80% of the time, but for air-chilled chicken, only 40% tested positive. As for you spending your own money to test chicken? In 2007, when the CU report came out, an FSIS spokesperson said they used “Junk Science”. They already have these numbers, and I don’t see them changing because of them. They are doing a baseline now on chicken parts, and we will see higher numbers than the carcass rinses they now use for baseline discussions.

  • Thanks Doc. I also found this article interesting:
    “A surprising finding by a team of University of Georgia scientists suggests that curbing the use of antibiotics on poultry farms will do little – if anything – to reduce rates of antibiotic resistant bacteria that have the potential to threaten human health.”

  • Minkpuppy

    I thought antibiotic use on broiler farms was pretty limited anyway. There’s some use of coccidiostats and ionophores early on but these aren’t antibiotics in the classical sense. After the first couple of weeks, these drugs are withdrawn and are out of the birds systems by slaughter time. They have little or no effect on Salmonella or Campylobacter so they really can’t be associated with antibiotic resistance.

  • Lisa

    Actually they routinely use an antibiotic called ceftiofur (human use is called cephalosporin). A study by the Canadian government found that when farmers reduced use of ceftiofur, rates of ceftiofur-resistant infections went down. When they increased the use, rates went up. This is a recent study – about 2009 – and is ground-breaking. It proves there’s a link to chicken farming.

  • Do you have the cite for that study?

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    It is only logical that exposure to anything will cause the human body eventual resistance to it. That is the job our bodies do. I believe Lisa’s quoted study to make sense.

  • Doc Mudd

    Except Lisa didn’t cite a study, only offered her unprofessional interpretation of some nameless study that may exist or that may be a figment of her imagination. How can Lisa’s casual insinuation possibly “make sense”?
    Cough up the citation so we might all become better educated and begin making some sense.