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Think twice before ordering that steak tartare

15 Feb 2017

A study co-authored by Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, Head of the Antimicrobial Resistance Programme at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, found out there is a potential risk to consumers if they were to consume raw meat that might harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which could cause difficult-to-treat infections.

A test was conducted during the study and the results showed that 15 out of 19 raw chilled and frozen samples of chicken meat obtained from various retail stores in Singapore tested positive for a type of bacteria known as extended-spectrum betalactamase-producing Enterobacteriacea, or ESBL-E. ESBL-E is known to be resistant to strong antibiotics and infection rates among humans have risen globally.

Assoc Prof Hsu explained that with the practice of using antibiotics on livestock to treat infections as well as to promote growth and weight gain could lead to minute albeit real risks in the long run. The study also stated that antibiotic-resistant bacteria can cause 7,000-8,000 infections a year in Singapore.

‘ANTIBIOTIC-FREE’ MEAT?

Assoc Prof Hsu also mentioned that even if livestock is being raised using antibiotic-free methods, it may still receive antibiotics as part of treatment for diseases. He said, “As such bacteria are increasingly ubiquitous in the environment, it is possible for some animals to acquire them without ever receiving antibiotics, much like how some patients who have not received antibiotics can still come down with infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria.”

 

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