New E. coli warning: Lidl chicken ‘riddled’ fecal bacteria, listeria and drug-resistant superbugs, including MRSA

The results showed that 23 of the 40 products analyzed were positive for MRSA and extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL), bacteria that no longer respond to antimicrobial treatment.  Diarrhea caused by E. Coli bacteria was also recorded in 19 chickens bought from UK stores
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More than half of Lidl chickens are ‘littered’ with potentially deadly drug-resistant ‘superbugs’, researchers have discovered.

The results showed that 23 of the 40 products analyzed were positive for MRSA and extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL), bacteria that no longer respond to antimicrobial treatment.

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Diarrhea caused by E. Coli bacteria was also recorded in 19 chickens bought from UK stores.

The retailer argued that it had not itself recorded any ‘deviations outside legal levels’, and that no concerns had been flagged by regulators.

But animal welfare charities, which commissioned the research, today branded the results ‘unacceptable’ and called on the poultry industry to curb the use of antibiotics.

The results showed that 23 of the 40 products analyzed were positive for MRSA and extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL), bacteria that no longer respond to antimicrobial treatment.  Diarrhea caused by E. Coli bacteria was also recorded in 19 chickens bought from UK stores

The results showed that 23 of the 40 products analyzed were positive for MRSA and extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL), bacteria that no longer respond to antimicrobial treatment. Diarrhea caused by E. Coli bacteria was also recorded in 19 chickens bought from UK stores

The retailer argued that it had not itself recorded any 'deviations outside legal levels', and that no concerns had been flagged by regulators.  But animal welfare charities, which commissioned the research, today branded the results 'unacceptable' and called on the poultry industry to curb the use of antibiotics.

The retailer argued that it had not itself recorded any 'deviations outside legal levels', and that no concerns had been flagged by regulators.  But animal welfare charities, which commissioned the research, today branded the results 'unacceptable' and called on the poultry industry to curb the use of antibiotics.

The retailer argued that it had not itself recorded any ‘deviations outside legal levels’, and that no concerns had been flagged by regulators. But animal welfare charities, which commissioned the research, today branded the results ‘unacceptable’ and called on the poultry industry to curb the use of antibiotics.

Cóilín Nunan, policy and science manager of Alliance to Save our Antibiotics, a coalition of animal welfare groups, said The times: ‘Fast-growing chicken breeds should be phased out.

‘They have much poorer health and wellbeing and are more likely to require antibiotic treatments.

‘It is completely unacceptable to use life-saving medicines to support chicken farming with poor management practices.’

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All 40 products, bought by campaign group Open Cages, were sold in five stores in Manchester, Birmingham and London under Lidl’s flagship ‘Birchwood British’ chicken brand.

The samples included whole roast chickens, packs of thighs, drumsticks and breast meat.

It was then packed in cool bags and sent by refrigerated truck to a laboratory in Germany.

Researchers also found that twelve products also contained listeria, which can cause fever, illness and diarrhea.

Connor Jackson, co-founder of Open Cages, which lobbies to end factory farming, said: ‘There is no specific benchmark for what is too high. But everyone agrees that they should be reduced.

‘The point about these findings is that they are extremely high.’

Drug-resistant infections kill an estimated 1.3 million people worldwide each year, and this number is expected to rise to 10 million by 2050 if no action is taken.

The free-range egg farms in Leeds, Powys and Leicestershire all supplied major supermarkets in the UK, including Sainsbury's.  Chickens are pictured huddled in one of the sheds on the farm in Powys

The free-range egg farms in Leeds, Powys and Leicestershire all supplied major supermarkets in the UK, including Sainsbury's.  Chickens are pictured huddled in one of the sheds on the farm in Powys

The free-range egg farms in Leeds, Powys and Leicestershire all supplied major supermarkets in the UK, including Sainsbury’s. Chickens are pictured huddled in one of the sheds on the farm in Powys

In some cases, the horrific conditions caused the chickens to become distressed, causing them to lose feathers and exhibit behaviors towards each other, including bullying, aggressive pecking and even cannibalism.  Pictured is a freezer full of dead chicken carcasses on the farm in Powys

In some cases, the horrific conditions caused the chickens to become distressed, causing them to lose feathers and exhibit behaviors towards each other, including bullying, aggressive pecking and even cannibalism.  Pictured is a freezer full of dead chicken carcasses on the farm in Powys

In some cases, the horrific conditions caused the chickens to become distressed, causing them to lose feathers and exhibit behaviors towards each other, including bullying, aggressive pecking and even cannibalism. Pictured is a freezer full of dead chicken carcasses on the farm in Powys

Multidrug-resistant bacteria can spread from animals to humans through the food chain, but due to commercial sensitivities, data on the number of antibiotic-resistant insects in food is not widely available.

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However, the use of antibiotics in British farm animals has fallen in recent years, causing sales to fall by 59 percent in 2022 compared to 2014.

The test results are not related to recent recalls of E. Coli sandwiches in supermarkets, in which more than 200 Britons have been affected by Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC), a rare variant of the insect.

Lidl said the tests involved only a small sample of raw, uncooked meat, tested outside UK guidelines.

A spokesperson for the supermarket said: ‘Food safety is a priority for our business and all products are subject to extensive quality checks throughout the supply chain.

‘We work closely with our suppliers and a wide range of industrial partners, aligning our policies with the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (Ruma) and the Food Industry Initiative on Antimbiotics (FIIA) to ensure responsible and Ruma-recommended use of antibiotics. while ensuring animal welfare remains a priority.

‘Our own testing shows that there have been no micro-related deviations outside legal levels over the past 12 months, and no concerns have been raised to us on this subject by regulatory bodies.’

It comes as five farms were stripped of their ‘RSPCA Assured’ status in March after an undercover investigation revealed chickens were living in ‘appalling’ conditions.

The free-range egg farms in Leeds, Powys and Leicestershire all supplied major supermarkets in the UK, including Sainsbury’s.

Secretly filmed footage from Animal Justice Project (AJP) showed the tens of thousands of birds living in dark and cramped sheds surrounded by the bodies and skeletons of dead chickens.

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In some cases, the horrific conditions caused the chickens to become distressed, causing them to lose feathers and exhibit behaviors towards each other, including bullying, aggressive pecking and even cannibalism.

The latest statistics show that the average Briton consumes 35kg of poultry meat every year.

To avoid food poisoning, people should make sure they cook chicken thoroughly, separate meat from other foods, keep it in the refrigerator and wash their hands and utensils after handling raw meat, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Chicken should also not be washed as this could cause bacteria to splash elsewhere in the kitchen, it added.

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