Do You Know What’s in the Chicken You Eat?

Under all that flavour, your butter chicken includes something rather sinister. 

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3 min read
Do You Know What’s in the Chicken You Eat?
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Can’t imagine what life would be like without chicken? No more tasty kebabs, biryani or barbecues? Gasp! But have you ever stopped to think about what else is in your chicken besides all that protein and flavour?

The next time you scoop up some butter chicken, remember you may be consuming some of the following items too:


1) Antibiotic Residue

The practice of using antibiotics, to promote growth among farm animals, has been rampant for a few years now. It is believed that these antibiotics help raise the immunity of these animals.

Extensive use of antibiotics in agriculture results in human exposure to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria via direct and indirect pathways.

A July 2017 study conducted by the Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) across 18 poultry farms in six districts in Punjab had detected high prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in two-third of the farms surveyed.

Speaking to The Quint, Ramanan Laxminarayan, CDDEP Director, who authored the study, said:

Over 67 percent of the farms surveyed were using antibiotics for growth promotion. This is an alarming figure, since the overuse of antibiotics in poultry puts all of us in great health risk. It will multiply drug resistance in the environment.
Ramanan Laxminarayan, CDDEP Director

A more recent study by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) says multi-drug resistant bacteria is spreading into the environment through unsafe disposal of poultry litter and waste in agricultural fields, with the potential to infect human beings.

A total of 217 isolates of three types of bacteria – E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus lentus – were extracted and tested for resistance against 16 antibiotics. Ten of these antibiotics have been declared Critically Important (CI) for humans by the World Health Organization (WHO), points out the study.

Surprised? But, wait that’s not it!

2) Salmonella Bacteria

Many studies state that a lot of the ready-to-cook chicken that you consume may be contaminated with the Salmonella bacteria, which is known to cause acute food poisoning.

A recent report by the US Department of Agriculture (UDSA) stated that consumption of processed chicken meat in India was rising 20 percent annually. 

Which means that there is a high probability of contamination reaching our kitchens.

A Hindustan Times report quotes a study by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre’s food technology department – titled ‘Salmonella in Indian ready-to-cook poultry’ – as saying that more than 50 percent of the 48 samples of minimally processed and raw meat samples stored at 8-10°C were contaminated.

To make matters worse, four out of every five Salmonella bacteria strains were found to be antibiotic-resistant. The samples included boneless chicken, drumsticks, sausages, cutlets, nuggets, salami slices, seekh kebab.

Yes, you heard it right!


3) E. coli Traces

Though not all types of E. coli bacteria are harmful, there are some that can cause bloody diarrhea, severe anemia or kidney failure.

60 percent of the E.coli bacteria contained ‘resistance conferring’ genes that rendered many antibiotics ineffective. 
(Photo Courtesy: CDDEP)

The CDDEP study also tested Escherichia coli (E.coli) samples from across the poultry farms. The results revealed that 60 percent of this bacteria contained ‘resistance conferring’ genes that rendered many antibiotics ineffective. This protective genes can also be easily passed on to other types of bacteria.

So, there you have it! The next time you gobble that chicken biryani, make sure that the chicken is fresh and that it comes from a farm that doesn’t inject their poultry with antibiotics.

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