BALTIMORE, MD, Mar. 21 (UPI) — The presence of drug-resistant bacteria on uncooked poultry varies by commercial brand and probably is related to use of antibiotics, a U.S. study found.
The study, published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, is the first to compare directly bacterial contamination of poultry sold in U.S. supermarkets from food producers who use antibiotics and from those who say they do not.
The study focused on antibiotic resistance, specifically, fluoroquinolone-resistance in Campylobacter, a pathogen responsible for 2.4 million cases of food-borne illness per year in the United States.
“Our use of medically important classes of antibiotics in food-animal production creates a significant public health concern,” said lead researcher Lance Price, a fellow at the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future in Baltimore.
“Claims have been made that using antibiotics increases food safety by reducing pathogens on the meat,” Price said, “but we found that brands that do not use any antibiotics during production were no more likely to contain Campylobacter than those that do.”
The only brand with a significantly lower rate of Campylobacter contamination was actually an antibiotic-free brand, Price said.