Shocking test results for Lidl poultry. We have the answer from discount chains

Shocking test results for Lidl poultry.  We have the answer from discount chains

The Otwarte Klatki Association ordered laboratory tests of chicken meat sold in Lidl. In 40 percent Superbugs, i.e. bacteria resistant to many antibiotics, were detected in the samples examined.

The study involved the analysis of 30 samples of Lidl’s own brand chicken meat (“Rzeźnik”) purchased on March 6, 2024 in Lidl stores in Kraków, Warsaw and Gdańsk. The samples were checked in the laboratory for the presence of so-called superbugs, i.e. pathogens resistant to many different antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is currently one of the greatest threats to public health – it is called by scientists “the silent epidemic of the 21st century.” According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, approximately 100 people die from it every day in Europe.

Superbugs more often found in every third package of chicken

Active superbugs were detected in the study in 40%. samples, i.e. more often than in every third package from Polish Lidl stores. The presence of ESBL bacterial strains (i.e. bacteria producing enzymes that degrade beta-lactam antibiotics) and MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains) was confirmed. The study also detected other bacteria: 80 percent Enterococci samples, 40 percent E. coli bacteria, 27 Campylobacter, 23 percent Listeria monocytogenes strains and 7% bacteria of the Salmonella species.

– The presented microbiological results are highly disturbing. They showed the presence of many species of bacteria in the tested samples, not only responsible for infections and food poisoning, but also showing multi-antibiotic resistance. This situation poses a serious threat to consumers’ health – comments Prof. Ph.D. Waleria Hryniewicz, creator of the National Antibiotic Protection Program – Bacterial species and resistance mechanisms revealed in the study have no right to be included in breeding or meat intended for consumption. The results of these studies indicate the need for better supervision and improvement of chicken breeding conditions, he adds.

This is how Dr. Anna Kozajda from the Department of Chemical Safety of the Institute of Occupational Medicine, named after prof., talks about the issue of threats to people. Dr. Jerzy Nofer in Łódź: Transfer of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to humans may occur through consumption of raw meat or other product that has been contaminated with them during preliminary processing in the kitchen (e.g. cutting board, knife, sink) or storage in the refrigerator. After ingesting such bacteria, resistance genes are transferred in the intestines to other species that are natural components of the human microbiome. The more contact a person has with drug-resistant bacteria, the more resistance genes to various groups of antibiotics are present in his or her microbiome.

Contact with such bacteria primarily poses the risk of transferring antibiotic resistance to humans, which makes drugs unable to fight the disease. Additionally, superbugs can cause infections that are difficult to cure, e.g. pneumonia, skin infections, urinary tract infections, and even sepsis.

The use of antibiotics in animal husbandry is increasing. Scientists are sounding the alarm

As indicated by Otwarte Klatki, the tested meat came from chickens from typical industrial farming in Poland, based on fast-growing breeds of animals that are slaughtered at the age of only 6 weeks. Over the last 60 years, their growth has accelerated four times, which was possible not only thanks to genetic selection, but initially also to antibiotics and their growth-stimulating properties.

In 2006, the European Union banned the use of antibiotics for this purpose, and from 2022, their preventive use is prohibited. Despite this, the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry in Poland is still growing – Poland ranks second in Europe both in terms of the number of antibiotics sold and the number of drugs administered per kilogram of animal body weight. According to a Biostat study from 2023, 79.7 percent Poles believe that the conditions in which animals raised for meat live influence the amount of antibiotics used in breeding.

As Otwarte Klatki emphasizes, such a high use of antibiotics in breeding is directly related to the use of fast-growing breeds. They give the example of data from the Dutch Veterinary Medicines Institute (SDa), according to which switching to slower-growing chicken breeds was associated with a 9-fold lower demand for antibiotics in the Netherlands.

“Animal suffering directly related to a threat to public health”

– The unnaturally rapid weight gain places a heavy burden on the bodies of chickens bred for meat, in addition to the high crowding in hen houses, which consequently creates a fertile ground for the development of diseases and generates the need for antibiotics – says Katarzyna Miśkiewicz from the Otwarte Klatki Association – The suffering of animals is therefore directly related to the serious threat to public health posed by such intensive breeding – he adds.

Similar research was carried out in Great Britain, Italy, Germany and Spain as part of an international campaign of 20 organizations addressed to the Lidl chain – as Miśkiewicz explains, Lidl is the largest supermarket in Europe and, as a leader in the food industry, it can largely dictate the standards prevailing in the industry. Therefore, he is responsible for pushing the market in a better direction.

Lidl Polska’s response

The Wprost editorial office received a statement from the Lidl Polska chain on this matter.

“Unfortunately, since we do not currently have specific results from the Albert Schweitzer Foundation study, we cannot revise these results. Currently, we do not have any restrictions on the sale of our poultry meat in terms of microbiology.

We continually work to improve our products and immediately investigate any indication that our high quality standards are not being met. We remain in close contact with our suppliers to ensure high quality products and require them to limit their use of antibiotics in consultation with their veterinarian.

Poultry meat in general is relatively susceptible to bacterial contamination, so poultry should never be eaten raw. When processing and preparing poultry meat, basic hygiene rules should always be followed, which we clearly indicate on all our poultry packaging. Poultry meat must always be served after appropriate heat treatment before consumption (well-cooked, fried, baked, etc.). The bacteria identified by the Albert Schweitzer Foundation are not necessarily specific to the type of farm, but rather are found in all types of poultry farms. This is also confirmed by the Stiftung Warentest fresh poultry test(1). Rather, they constitute a general challenge for the entire poultry industry. Our own rigorous inspections and quality assurance measures reliably ensure the safety of our products. With standard processing of poultry, there is no risk to health.

We held intensive and constructive discussions with the Open Wing Alliance, to which the Albert Schweitzer Foundation also belongs. We continually support the initiative’s goal of improving animal welfare and poultry farming conditions. However, in all our efforts to make positive changes for the environment, we want to keep our promises and therefore only set goals that are realistically achievable. In order to fully meet the requirements of the European Chicken Commitment by 2026, a broad alliance of key stakeholders and market participants is necessary. For these reasons, we do not currently sign the European Chicken Commitment, but rather advocate and support the implementation of national industry initiatives to improve animal welfare and health in poultry farming, together with producers, industry, trade and animal rights activists. It is important for us to follow this path, bearing in mind the specificity of each country and taking into account animal welfare in all its complexity – from farmers to customers.”

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