One in four samples of chicken bought from major supermarket chains contained antibiotic-resistant E coli in a study by the University of Cambridge. The bacterium was discovered in packs of meat sold at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Aldi, Waitrose, the Co-op and Morrisons.
Scientists tested products such as whole roasting chickens, diced breast meat and packets of legs, thighs and drumsticks, detecting ESBL E coli – resistant to many types of antibiotics – on 22 of 92 samples.
The study, commissioned by the campaign group Save Our Antibiotics, also found 51% of E coli from pork and poultry samples were resistant to the antibiotic trimethoprim, which is used to treat more than half of lower urinary tract infections.
Dr Mark Holmes, from the University of Cambridge, studied 189 chicken and pork samples. He told the Daily Mail: “The levels of resistant E coli that we have found are worrying. Every time someone falls ill, instead of just getting a food poisoning bug they might also be getting a bug that is antibiotic resistant.”
People developing urinary tract infections may discover that the bug they have is resistant to a first-choice antibiotic, and by the time a suitable one is found the bug could be “out of control”, potentially leading to death.