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 Waitrose, Cambridge 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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