Lidl Spain sells contaminated chicken

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contaminated chicken

A recent German study reveals that 71% of the analysed chickens from Lidl in Spain are contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Seventeen of the twenty-four samples contained these dangerous microorganisms, which can cause infections such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and even septicaemia.

The study, conducted by an independent laboratory in Cologne, Germany, analysed 142 products from 22 Lidl branches in different countries. In Spain, 83% of the samples contained bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Campylobacter. Additionally, 38% of the samples contained Listeria, a bacterium particularly dangerous for pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. The samples were taken from various types of chicken, including chicken wings, drumsticks, thighs, and fillets, obtained in Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona.

Causes

Julia Elizalde from the Observatorio de Bienestar Animal (OBA) points to the frequent preventive use of antibiotics on farms as the cause of resistant bacteria. Farmers administer the antibiotics to prevent diseases such as avian flu. However, these practices lead to serious health risks, emphasises Dr. Rupert Ebner, a prominent veterinarian. This problem is further exacerbated by the poor living conditions of the chickens, often crowded together among their own excrement.

Response from Lidl

Lidl, in a statement to Público, denied the accusations. They stressed that the chain conducts stringent quality controls through independent and accredited bodies. “Both the authorities and the health services monitor all our suppliers and the chicken products we sell in our stores. Thus ensuring they meet all legal requirements,” stated Lidl. The chain emphasised that the presence of bacteria in raw chicken meat is a general problem in the poultry industry and not specific to their suppliers.

Health risks from diarrhoea and urinary tract infections

The study also highlights a significant risk of diarrhoea-causing pathogens in the analysed chickens. Campylobacter and Escherichia coli were found in 83% of the Spanish samples. Campylobacter can range from mild infections to severe diarrhoea with fever and complications such as joint inflammation or Guillain-Barré syndrome. Escherichia coli can cause not only diarrhoea but also urinary tract infections and severe complications such as septicaemia.

The OBA has submitted the results of the study to the Spanish ministries of Consumer Affairs, Social Rights and 2030 Agenda, and Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food. The observatory has requested a thorough investigation into the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Lidl’s chicken meat. They also demand a public report to ensure transparency and consumer protection. However, the OBA has not yet received a response from the authorities.

Future dangers

According to the World Health Organisation, the world is at risk of entering a “post-antibiotic era” if no action is taken. Experts warn that bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant due to the excessive use of antibiotics, which could lead to higher healthcare costs and an increase in deaths from infections. In Spain, approximately 3,000 people die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections. Experts stress that urgent action is needed to limit the use of antibiotics in livestock farming and to improve hygienic conditions to prevent further spread of resistant bacteria.

Read also: Spanish researchers fear ‘silent pandemic’ of resistant bacteria

 

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