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Greens Welcome Chicken Tests

4 April 2002

Greens Welcome Chicken Tests, Challenge Industry To Come Clean

Green MP Sue Kedgley today welcomed Ministry of Health moves towards the testing of chickens for antibiotic resistant bacteria but said the poultry industry must come clean and disclose exactly what antibiotics they were using and in what quantities.

Ms Kedgley recently had a raw supermarket chicken tested for antibiotic resistance. The results found five medically significant strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria on it.

"I have been campaigning for years for the Ministry to undertake random testing of chicken meat to ensure it does not carry antibiotic resistant bacteria, and I am delighted that the Ministry is finally considering implementing such a regime in the light of the test results.

"I think it is hypocritical for Tegel to publicly declare what antibiotics they don't use when they have repeatedly denied my office information on what antibiotics they do use. I therefore challenge Tegel to tell all consumers exactly what antibiotics they do use and in what quantities.

"Let's explode the myths."

Ms Kedgley said with antibiotic resistance in humans growing around the world it was essential that the government tackle the underlying causes as well as the symptoms of antibiotic resistance.

"The Ministry of Health is responsible for protecting public health, and ensuring that consumers are not being inadvertently exposed to antibiotic resistant bacteria. The Government must do everything in its power to reduce our expose to resistant bacteria," she said.

"It is one thing to use antibiotics to treat illness in animals but it is something else altogether to use them to make chickens grow faster. The onus must be on the poultry industry to clean up their act and find ways of rearing chickens without feeding them antibiotics every day in their water and feed." Ms Kedgley said despite the ban on the use of the antibiotic avoparcin in animal feed a couple of years ago she was very concerned with yesterday's admission from the Ministry of Health that stocks of the antibiotic could still be in use in the poultry industry. Use of the antibiotic avoparcin has been linked to resistance to vancomycin, an antibiotic of last resort found on the tested chicken.

"If we continue to allow the misuse of antibiotics in animals we will be squandering the greatest medical advance of the last century simply so we can eat cheaper chicken," said Ms Kedgley.

Ends

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