Hong Kong’s Consumer Council has found that more than 60% of tested chicken samples in the local market contained “superbug” bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
Out of a total of 100 chicken samples, 62 tested positive for bacteria that produce extended spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL), South China Morning Post said. The samples were either chilled, frozen or slaughtered on the same day.
ESBL are enzymes resistant to most beta-lactam antibiotics, which includes cephalosporins, penicillins and the monobactam aztreonam.
Among those that returned positive results were all six chickens slaughtered on the same day. Interestingly, only a third of the frozen samples contained the bacteria.
Michael Hui King-man, the council’s publicity committee chairman, said:
“What’s worth noting is that the freezing process does not kill bacteria. But the chicken might be washed and processed beforehand, which may reduce the bacteria level.”
“Antibiotics must only be prescribed by veterinarians to treat diseases, and not for prevention or growth,” Hui warned.
Following the results, the Consumer Council urged the government-formed High-level Steering Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance to review current legislation on antibiotic usage among animals and eliminate abuse practiced by farmers.
SCMP said some local suppliers ignored the test results, arguing that it lacked credibility and warned legal action if it affected their business. However, the Consumer Council stressed that there is no need to stay away from chicken.