Study: 1/4 Chicken Samples in UK Supermarkets Contain Antibiotic Resistant E. coli

chicken and e. coli
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A study at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom has found that one in four chicken samples, taken from the most common UK supermarkets, contain antibiotic resistant E. coli. [1]

This study, which was commissioned by the group Save Our Antibiotics, concluded that 51% of E. coli found in both pork and poultry samples were resistant to the common antibiotic trimethoprim, which is often used to treat lower urinary tract infections.

Mark Holmes, who conducted the research, stated that the findings were “worrying.” [2]

Scientific adviser at Save our Antibiotics, Cóilín Nunan told the Daily Mail:

“These findings should be a wake-up call for supermarkets and the Government.

They show that many consumers are being exposed to high levels of antibiotic resistance daily at meal time. Scientific evidence is accumulating that the overuse of antibiotics on farms is an important contributor to antibiotic resistance in E.coli infections.

E.coli is now killing more than twice as many people as MRSA and Clostridium difficile combined, so the price of any further inaction will be measured in human lives.”

Mark Holmes of the University of Cambridge further emphasized the danger of the E. coli bacteria. He states that those who fall ill with food poisoning may also go on to develop an infection that is resistant to antibiotics, meaning it can be harder to treat and to keep it away. Many times, people may have to have several different types of antibiotics before their infection can be properly treated.

Holmes stated that although the findings are troublesome, people can keep their risk of becoming ill to a minimum by washing their hands thoroughly after handling uncooked chicken or pork.

If you’re terribly worried about possibly coming into contact with the bacteria, a spokesperson for the Food Standards Agency said that when cooking meat, it is important that it is cooked thoroughly. There should be no pink meat and the juices should run clear.

Symptoms of E. coli include diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. If it progresses, it can lead to bloody diarrhea, dehydration and eventually kidney failure, which can be fatal. It is most harmful to young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. [3]


[1] The Guardian

[2] The Daily Mail

[3] Healthline- E. coli