Concern over banned antibiotic superbug found in Australian chicken meat

Australian researchers have found evidence of a banned antibiotic in chickens for sale in major supermarkets and butchers. Scientists from the School of Biology from the Australian National University (ANU) took 281 samples from three major supermarkets and a butcher around Canberra. The samples were contaminated with the common bacteria E.coli — almost two thirds of the bugs were resistant to some form of antibiotic. Researchers said that illnesses caused by consuming the contaminated chicken mean would be difficult to treat.

E.coli is known to cause common infections like urinary tract and other blood stream infections like septicaemia. Just by consuming the meat we can be exposed to the antibiotic as well.

ANU researcher Belinda Vangchhia

Most harmful bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant E.coli, are destroyed when chicken is cooked properly. However, during food preparation chickens come into contact with humans and household surfaces. There is also some evidence that some bacteria and antibiotic residues can remain at low levels in meat after cooking. University of Sydney academic Dr Stephen Page believes contamination with resistant E.coli is happening elsewhere, and says the specific drugs do not help fatten up produce and are expensive.

I know nobody in the industry who would even contemplate an illegal practice, especially one that has only one outcome and that is undermining the world-class reputation of the chicken meat industry.

University of Sydney academic Dr Stephen Page