Reporters from the CBC’s “Marketplace” program visited supermarkets in Canada’s three largest cities, bought 100 samples of chicken, and sent them off to a lab for analysis. When the analysis came back, they weren’t particularly surprised to find that two-thirds of the samples were contaminated by bacteria – that’s the sort of thing you expect from raw chicken. What they didn’t expect was that every one of the bacteria strains present in those bits of raw chicken, purchased from major supermarkets and labeled with big-name brands, was resistant to at least one antibiotic. Some were resistant to as many as eight.
“This is the most worrisome study I’ve seen of its kind,” said Rick Smith, the head of Environmental Defence, a consumer advocacy group.
The culprits in this case of superbug proliferation will be all too familiar to regular Covering Health readers.
Doctors and scientists told Marketplace co-host Erica Johnson that chicken farmers are overusing antibiotics — routinely giving healthy flocks doses of amoxicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin and ceftiofur to prevent disease and to make the chickens grow bigger, faster.
The full CBC program is available for free online. The reporters have even shared a spreadsheet of their test results.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that as the state has stepped up inspections of grocery outlets, officials have found legions of violations of rules designed to prevent the spread of food-borne illness. Reports of consumers actually contracting such illnesses from supermarket foods are rare, and the overall number of violators is fairly small. Additionally, reporters found that small markets are more likely to offend than larger chains.
There’s a bit of a backstory about this article, as Bob Norman of Broward New Times reports. The original reporter was laid off in May, before the project was finished and published.
[Mc Nelly] Torres, an Investigative Reporters & Editors board member, had developed a database, tagged along with inspectors, and written most of the piece. She says she asked her editor, Cyndi Metzger, about it and was assured that the story would be published under her name. The day after she was laid off, she went back to the office to do some touching up on the project.
When the project was published on Sunday, it carried no byline. Torres is acknowledged with several reporters in the tagline at the end of the story. Torres, who says she is disappointed but wants to move on, sent an e-mail to several editors and, according to Norman, has not received a response.