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UK: Antibiotic resistant E.coli found in one in four samples of supermarket chicken

Published: September 6, 2016
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One in four samples of chicken from the UK’s largest supermarkets contains antibiotic-resistant E.Coli bacteria, new research has revealed.

The bacterium was found in meat from Asda, Aldi, Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and WaitroseCambridge University researchers found.

They tested whole chickens, breast meat, legs, drumsticks, thighs and  chicken sausages – and found 24% contained types of E. Coli resistant to antibiotics.

And 51% of E. Coli found in pork and chicken from the supermarkets were resistant to the antibiotic trimethoprim, a drug used to treat more than half of bladder infections.

The findings illustrate how antibiotic use in farm animals – and not simply doctors overprescribing the drugs to patients as many believe – is contributing to growing levels of drug resistance, which is why the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) has been probing this under-reported topic for six months.

The problem of antimicrobial resistance is now so severe NHS England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies said it remains a ‘bigger threat than terrorism’ – despite commissioning a report five years ago to tackle the issue.

In fact, this year a Government-backed report by economist Professor Jim O’Neill predicted the problem would kill 10 million people worldwide by 2050 – more deaths than cancer.

Figures published earlier this year by the Vetinary Medicines Directorate and analysed by the Bureau revealed an increase in sales of some critically important antibiotics – those that doctors now rely on to treat infections because drug resistance has left others medicines less effective – for veterinary use.

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