The report cited a Canadian study, which claimed that the bacteria found in women with difficult-to-treat urinary tract infections matched a drug-resistant E.coli strain found in chickens.
However, the US National Chicken Council (NCC) has released a statement, backed by scientists, which refuted the link between the E.coli that causes human urinary tract infections and the E.coli found on chicken products.
Randall Singer, DVM, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, said: “Bacteria move dynamically, not just in one direction from animals to humans; all pathways must be considered.
“The studies in question make the assumption that humans carrying these E.coli acquired them from poultry. The strains did not originate in poultry and probably entered these farms from sources originating in human communities.
"Perhaps most importantly, the potential transmission of antibiotic resistant E.coli to humans says nothing about why these E.coli are antibiotic-resistant in the first place. The resistances observed in these E.coli are common globally and are unlikely to be attributed to chickens, given the few antibiotics available for use in poultry in the US.”
The NCC also disputed a claim that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says 80% of all antibiotics are fed to livestock, pointing out that “there is no comparable human and animal data that makes such an analysis possible”, and adding that the statistic cannot be attributed to the FDA.
ABC’s news report was based on a joint investigation with the Food & Environment Reporting Network. The Canadian study which linked the E.coli responsible for bladder infecions with the bacteria found in chicken was carried out by Amee Manges PhD, an epidemiologist at Canada’s McGill University,
“The E. coli that is circulating at the same time, and in the same area — from food animal sources, retail meat, and the E. coli that’s causing women’s infections — is very closely related genetically,” said Manges.
“And the E. coli that you recover from poultry meat tends to have the highest levels of resistance. Of all retail meats, it’s the most problematic that way.”