Dangerous bacteria found in poultry meat in Austria

19 March 2012

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been found in poultry provided to Austrian supermarkets according to a recent study by Global 2000/Friends of the Earth Austria. The bacteria, which is easily transferrable to humans, is especially dangerous for people with weak immune systems. According to the European Parliament 25,000 people die every year from infections caused by antibiotic-resistant germs.

Following Friends of the Earth Germany's latest report on antibiotic-resistant bacteria in meat, Global 2000/Friends of the Earth Austria tested samples of poultry meat from four of the main poultry providers to Austrian supermarkets. The samples were bought in different supermarket chains and were tested for the bacteria Methicillin-resistenter Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and Extended Spectrum Beta-Laktamase (ESBL) – which produces Escherichia Coli (E. Coli).

The bacteria, common in meat from industrial factory farms, result from large numbers of animals living in confined conditions - which requires heavy dependence upon antibiotics to reduce illness.

Heidemarie Porstner from Friends of the Earth Austria explains: "It's shocking – the results are clear. According to the Austrian agency for health and food security, MRSA was not found in tested meat in the last three years. But with just a small number of samples we've proven the opposite".

Friends of the Earth Austria demands a transparent monitoring system and a central collection of information on antibiotic resistances and their use in agriculture.

Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) tested 20 samples and found the same resistant bacteria in half of their samples.

They are calling for:

  • A reduction of the use of antibiotics in livestock production, including a proper reduction target
  • Higher legal standards for livestock production, so that the use of antibiotics can be reduced to a minimum
  • No use of important antibiotics in livestock production (e.g. Cephalosporins of the third and fourth generation and fluorchinolons)
  • Strict monitoring and control of the use of antibiotics in livestock production