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Shocking levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria in UK supermarket meat

Staff Writer | September 6, 2016
A study of supermarket meat by researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics has uncovered shocking levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
UK supermarket meat
Health   Quarter of supermarket chicken contains resistance E.Coli
Antibiotic resistance is a growing threat, and resistance to last-resort treatments has been detected in the UK. The research, which looked at pork and poultry meat on sale in the UK’s seven largest supermarkets (ASDA, Aldi, Coop, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose), found that almost a quarter (24%) of chicken meat tested positive for antibiotic resistant E.Coli.

The E.Coli bacteria detected was resistant to modern cephalosporin antibiotics, which are rated as ‘critically important’ to human medicine and are used to treat blood poisoning.

More worrying still, the levels of resistant bacteria uncovered by the study were four times higher than those found during a similar study in 2015, in which just 6% of chicken tested positive for the E. coli strain.

Cambridge University researchers, who tested 189 samples of supermarket meat, found that 51% of the E. coli from pork and poultry samples were resistant to the antibiotic trimethoprim, which is used to treat over half of lower urinary-tract infections, and 19% of E. coli were resistant to gentamicin, a very important human antibiotic used to treat more serious upper urinary-tract infections.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Mark Holmes, from Cambridge University, who led the study said, “I’m concerned that insufficient resources are being put into the surveillance of antibiotic resistance in farm animals and retail meat.

“We don’t know if these levels are rising or falling in the absence of an effective monitoring system. These results highlight the need for improvements in antibiotic stewardship in veterinary medicine.