Supermarkets selling contaminated pork and chicken, study warns


New research has warned of contaminated pork and chicken on slae. FILE PHOTO | NMG



  • New research finds the bulk of the contaminated meat on sale is under the retailers' own brands compared with cuts from suppliers.

A significant portion of chicken and pork meat sold in local supermarkets is contaminated with bacteria, some of which could be harmful to humans, a new report by a UK-based World Animal Protection has revealed.

In the findings, released on Wednesday, the organisation says the bulk of the contaminated meat on sale is under the retailers' own brands compared with cuts from suppliers.

Dr Victor Yamo, World Animal Protection farming campaigns manager and the lead researcher in the study, said that the presence of salmonella and shigella bacteria is worrying and efforts have to be put in place to cut on their levels.

“There was significant bacterial contamination in pork and chicken meat samples obtained from various supermarkets in Kenya,” said Dr Yamo.

The bacteria, usually transmitted through contaminated food, cause severe diarrhoea and a broad spectrum of abdominal complications that health experts warn are becoming difficult treat to due to increasing resistance to antibiotic drugs.

The study, which concealed the names of supermarkets, indicated that the highest contamination was found in pork as compared with chicken.

Samples were collected between April and May 2020 from the top six supermarkets in different counties in Kenya including Nairobi, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Kisumu, Nyeri and Laikipia.

The laboratory analysis was done at the Centre for Microbiology Research at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri).

The study also revealed that 60 per cent of the meat in supermarkets was found to have superbugs, brought about by high usage of antibiotics to treat animals.

Superbugs are strains of bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi that are resistant to most of the antibiotics and other medications commonly used to treat the infection that they cause.

Dr Yamo said 40 per cent of the antibiotics used to treat animals are not necessary and urged farmers to observe basic hygiene in order to avoid overreliance on medicines for sick livestock.

“The resistant patterns and phenotype observed are worrying because significant resistance was also registered against high priority antibiotics such as Cefepime, Cefoxatime, Ciprofloxacin, Vancomycin, and Erythromycin,” he said.

Dr Yamo called on the industry to improve animal welfare and responsible use of antibiotics urging international organisations, governments and veterinarians to support responsible use with suitable policy and regulation.