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Thursday, December 15, 2016, 17:24

Superbug found in 62% of HK chicken

By Dara Wang

Superbug found in 62% of HK chicken
(G raphic by Alex Tang / China Daily)

HONG KONG - Sixty-two percent of samples of chicken sold in Hong Kong contained bac

The Consumer Council urged the government to review current legislation on the use of antibiotics on food animals.

Consumer should be aware that "organic" certification does not necessarily guarantee the quality of the product

Hui King-man, chairman of the Consumer Council's Publicity and Community Relations Committee

The revelation came in its monthly report on the quality of various products sold in the city.

The council tested 100 chicken models from last December to May this year and found that 62 of those contained ESBL-producing bacteria. ESBL is kind of enzyme that inactive many antibiotics commonly used to treat infectious diseases with bacterial origin.

The bacteria were found in 96 percent of local chicken models and 79 percent of chicken from the Chinese mainland, according to the report.

The superbug was found in all six samples of daily slaughtered fresh chicken, followed by 92 percent in live chicken freshly slaughtered on site and 70 percent of chilled chicken. Some 30 percent of the frozen chicken were found to contain the bacteria, the report said.

The difference may be attributed to storing temperatures, said Michael Hui King-man, chairman of the Consumer Council's Publicity and Community Relations Committee. Frozen models, which placed in a temperature close to or below freezing point, may account for the lower proliferation or slow growth of the bacteria, Hui said.

Meanwhile, six out of 16 chicken samples labelled "organic" were found to contain the bacteria.

Superbug found in 62% of HK chicken
A chicken in a backyard waits to be taken away by Agriculture and Fisheries department staff in Hong Kong,  Feb 13, 2006. (AFP PHOTO/Samantha SIN)

Hui said consumer should be aware that "organic" certification does not necessarily guarantee the quality of the product.

Hui urged the government to set regulation against antibiotic use. The current Harmful Substances in Food Regulation and the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Chemical Residues) Regulation lists two antibiotics as harmful substances, but does not specify the proper use of them, Hui said.

The Council urged the High-level Steering Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance formed by the government to issue permits for the regular use of antibiotics and eventually prohibit the use unless prescribed for medical reasons by veterinarians.

Hui advised consumers to cook chicken thoroughly, as the antimicrobial resistant bacteria can be killed under high temperature. He uged members of the public to change the eating habit of having chicken cooked "just right" to maintain the tender texture.

In response to the council's report, the suppliers of Kamei Chicken and Wongkin Chicken -- which were found to contain the bacteria -- claimed that only heavy consumption of the bacteria is harmful. They also argued that the bacteria found in the surface of the chicken "cannot prove that the inside of the chicken was contaminated."

The agent of Chilled Sesame Chicken and Chilled Yellow Chicken in Guangdong province said the company has stopped selling the contaminated chicken and conducted tests to all other chickens to ensure that they meet the safety standards.

dara@chinadailyhk.com

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