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Chicken infected with antibiotic-resistant germs

The Local · 9 Jan 2012, 10:52

Published: 09 Jan 2012 10:52 GMT+01:00

Of 20 samples of fresh chicken meat bought in five cities around Germany, 12 were found to have antibiotic-resistant bacteria, said researchers from environmental group Bund (Friends of the Earth Germany).

They bought chicken at various supermarkets in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Nuremberg and the Stuttgart region, and sent it for testing. Ten samples had microbes which produce ESBL (Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase) enzymes, while two had MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria.

Both can be deadly for people vulnerable to infections, as they are resistant to the most widely used antibiotics. Such resistance has emerged as antibiotics have been excessively and improperly used and mutated bacteria form new disease strains.

A statement on the Bund website said that three chicken samples sold under the Wiesenhof brand were contaminated with ESBL-producing bacteria while the same was true for three samples of the Sprehe brand and four of the Stolle brand. One Sprehe sample and one from Stolle were contaminated with MRSA.

The testers bought chicken from some of Germany’s most popular supermarkets such as Edeka, Netto, Lidl, Rewe and Penny.

Although Bund admitted its test was no more than a snapshot of the situation, the group’s chairman Hubert Weiger said, “Every second chicken sample from German supermarkets is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant germs. That is the shocking result of the continued abuse of antibiotics.

“This is not only responsible for the fact that important medicines could lose their effect. The extent of the contamination of foodstuffs with hospital germs is a clear warning signal of the collateral damage of industrial animal farming.”

Bund said keeping many animals in limited space – intensive farming – was only possible with the use of antibiotics. Weiger called on Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner to limit or even ban industrial animal farming. Subsidies for such farming methods should be scrapped while the conditions under which animals are kept must be decisively improved, he said.

Added Bund agricultural expert Reinhild Benning: “Even healthy animals get the antibiotics because in industrial animal farming it is the rule that whole animal stocks are treated with them,” she said.

Story continues below…

Aigner told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper on Monday that she intended to take a draft law into cabinet this week which would drastically reduce the use of antibiotics in animal farming. The aim is to limit the use of antibiotics to the absolutely necessary level and to increase the ability of regional authorities to check this is the case.

A study commissioned late last year by the North-Rhine Westphalia consumer protection expert showed that 96 percent of the more than 10 million birds being farmed in the state had been treated with antibiotics.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:59 January 9, 2012 by JohnnesKönig
Look for the price of chicken to go up...
15:04 January 9, 2012 by romber58

Well if you are ok with buying cheap (and tasteless) poison, that is up to you.
16:15 January 9, 2012 by Staticjumper
So, how resistant are these microbes and bacteria to cooking? Or am I using too much common sense?
16:38 January 9, 2012 by heyheyhey

Resistance to cooking and/or high temperatures is only ONE issue associated with problem. There are a multitude of other concerns also. I will not go into all that as you can do some research online.

At issue is the overuse of antibiotics, indiscriminate overuse, period. The inhumane method of farming used by these growers of chickens must stop. Actually, all intensive industrial animal farming must stop. The horrific over crowding in these meat factories cannot sustain healthy life.

It would benefit all western societies if the consumption of meat was reduced. We do not need to eat nearly as much meat as western cultures consume. So, if healthy methods of animal farming were again used, as previous generations used, the price of meat would like rise. Oh well! It would be your choice to pay the price increase or eat less meat. The end result is improved health for the animals and for the people who eat the meat.

Additionally, MRSA from raw meat can contaminate YOU, when you handle the meat. It can contaminate your kitchen and your eating and food preparation items.

The actual COST to purchase these meats should be the LEAST of our concerns given the rapidly developing issues around antibiotic resistance.
16:45 January 9, 2012 by storymann
This is not only Germany, you would find the same in many countries including the USA.

I was raised on a large poultry farm,my parents would receive 150,000 day old chickens every 10 weeks. The chickens were full grown at 7 weeks and sent to the packres, we had 3 weeks to clean and disinfect for the next.

A service person from the company, would come 1 or 2 times a week and check the birds for various infections, which if not treated would spread rapidly through the entire flock. They always ordered medicated grain, full of antibiotics full spectrum and grain with growth hormones.The lights were on 20 to 22 hours every day.

When you buy poultry if the bones, mainly the leg bones will have a fair amount of discoloration(grayish) this is from the growth hormones,and you can be sure they have been fed antibiotics. A true Bio bird will have white to cream colored bones if no growth hormones were used.and would require more time to reach the same weight,

I always wash and cook chicken throughly, the price of Bio is so far above regular that most people can not justify the difference.
16:57 January 9, 2012 by gorongoza
Indeed shocking revelations !

What I hope to see is action by the authorities mandated to take care of our food chain issues. I expect them to pursue this issue further to come out with corobarative statistics to reveal how much we are exposed to this danger.
18:04 January 9, 2012 by neunElf
Yes all of this food is very harmful, after all people are living longer, healthier lives than ever before!
19:17 January 9, 2012 by Staticjumper

Thanks for the revealing response, but the central theme of the article is the danger of these bacteria to consumers, not the morality of modern farming. In fact, I agree with you that we eat too much meat and that conditions could be far more humane, but that's a separate debate. This article is clearly a sensationalistic attempt to wrap a hyper-activist agenda in some sort of public safety cloak. It's deceptive!


Thanks for the inside scoop on how to identify if poultry has been given growth hormones. Of course if you were raised on a poultry farm you¦#39;d know that growth hormones are not used in poultry, but I¦#39;ll keep your advice in mind.


@neunElf, spot on!
19:47 January 9, 2012 by storymann
Staticjumper , it was well over 40 years ago that my family raised broilers and yes there were hormones at that time . In researching this out I see that this is not the case for many years.

Growth hormones/steroids are not permitted in North America and have not been used for 40 years!

Thanks for the update.I do not want to perpetuate a misnomer.
20:07 January 9, 2012 by Staticjumper

I deliberately didn't mention the "40 year" figure for fear of insulting you by implying that you might be as old as, well .. me. As a kid on a dairy farm, I used to help our neighbor, who had a poultry operation (closer to 20,000 than 150,000) crate and ship the hens to the packers. So we both know to stay away from the pit! "Hey, it¦#39;s just chicken crap, right"?
22:00 January 9, 2012 by Navigator_B

When you say that growth hormones/steroids are not permitted in North America, I assume that you just mean poultry. I thought that their use was still standard practice in cattle.
08:51 January 10, 2012 by heyheyhey

Reading comprehension is not your strong point, I take it?

Re-read my post. I believe that approximately 99.9% of my post had to do with the health issues surrounding this method of farming.

Maybe you had not had your daily dose of protein along with your morning coffee?
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