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Superbugs in the Supermarket  Comment Icon 296 Broadcast DATE: Friday, February 11, 2011
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Superbugs in the Supermarket

Canadians are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. As a result, people are getting sicker and are taking longer to get well. It is now not uncommon for people to be administered antibiotics through an IV because the usual drugs in pill form can't fight off their infections.

While we've all heard that over-prescription of antibiotics to people is one cause of the resistance, what many Canadians don't know is that another major cause is because the animals we eat are also given large amounts of antibiotics. And not just when they're sick: healthy animals can be fed antibiotics every day because it makes them grow bigger, faster.

In an important story about human health, and the food we eat, Marketplace tests 100 samples of chicken bought at major supermarkets from across the country.

In Superbugs in the Supermarket, we name popular brands, and also reveal surprising information about organic poultry that claims to be raised without antibiotics.

Your Comments (296)
In reply to a comment from Oliver H

I think you missed the point....what does it matter that they showed up to speak to Loblaws without an appt?

In reply to a comment from stacey

really? are you a scientist?

It's amazing that people still eat meat every day. Get a clue.

In reply to a comment from brownie

oh my god that is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. I actually laughed out loud.

super bug

In reply to a comment from dola

I dont understand what your saying? Probiotics are creating super bugs? you mean antibiotics? I dont see how probiotic stomach flora in humans are creating super bugs in chicken....

In reply to a comment from john

I totally agree John, this documentary didnt seem convincing to me. they expect to get an interview with Loblaws president by calling them on their cell phone, haha.. of course they didnt want to talk to them. The journalist is pretty ignorant.

Start from the roots up.
First, people need to provide the chickens with the proper sanitation so antibiotics aren't required in the first place.
Even with the chickens getting sick, only start out with the minimal defense line of vaccines.
Only give vaccines to the ones that are sick. Its almost like humans, why would you give a large dose of vaccination every day if we aren't sick?

In reply to a comment from Allie

NO KIDDING! This is just what I was thinking. Thank goodness we aren't eating this garbage. Thank you, no. Eating a corpse does not appeal, infected with toxic avenger style bacteria or not.

In reply to a comment from Joanne

Probiotics are now just creating megasuper bugs in untreated intestinal flora in humans, etc. by feeding the monster that was created by the antibiotic overdose of a lifetime of ingestion. This is just one more supermarket/new age medicine hype that everyone is falling for with mass Big Ag getting on the "homeopathic/naturopathic" wagon to market!

In reply to a comment from John

I have to absolutely agree with you John. All it takes is one program such as this to totally undermine what the industry has work for to ensure safe food for everyone. My advise to everyone is, if you don't know where it came from, meat or vegetable just cook it and you will be fine.

Cooking at 165F may be killed bacteria but NOT ANTIBIOTIC DRUGS!!! in animals.

I'm not surprised by this at all. I wonder if people know that it is perfectly legal to have a chicken coop in your own back yard in urban areas. I live in Toronto and it's legal here too. It's something I've investigated the last 2 years and it looks like I will be setting one up soon :) I realize that completely antibiotic free chicken is probably unlikely but I'd feel better having my own chickens. Just like the vegetable garden we have every year :)

In reply to a comment from wickedways

Wicked ways…. Dont answer questions you dont know anything about. You don’t even have a clue what you are talking about. I have sold feed across western Canada to broiler chicken farms. The second that chick is placed in a barn in across Canada it is the property of the farmer along with the farm. These farms have the right to purchase feed from approved feed mills they can grow their own grain and put the grain into their own feedmill to produce feed for their animals as long as they follow all regulations as stated by Canadian chicken producers and the provincial/territorial regulatory board for safe food production. You cannot use any other seeds ever? You aren’t making a statement that is even worthy of being answered it is so far off base. I also work on my parent’s farm which raises crops and broiler chickens. we do not raise crops for a major corporation we raise them for our own business and if we wanted to we could build a feedmill following safe food production practices and then that grain could go to any chicken farm that purchased it ours included. Guess what my uncle grows his own grain and then makes it into feed and then feeds it to his birds all the while following safe food production practices and regulations. Then he can sell the birds to a provincially or federally inspected plant of his choice. There are many, many farms that produce their own feed start to finish. You say wake up. I say stop embarrassing yourself and falling into the stereotype farmers have of outspoken ignorant urban consumers. And do some research, antibiotic resistance doesn’t make me sick ignorance does.

I am surprised that most people only believe what they read in the newspaper or a television show. How about talking to a farmer? 90% of them will tell you exactly how they grow YOUR food. Buy Canadian and demand Canadian meat and veggies and you have a better chance of eating food that is clean of all harmful additives. How about not buying produce that is not in season. If is not Strawberry season in Canada then guess what; it is imported. Your guess is as good as mine how they seem to stay ripe in the 7-14 days the wait to make it to your mouth.

In reply to a comment from William Muller

I'm sorry I can't answer your question about European politics, because I am not a political expert like you seem to be, I was just noting common sense and junk journalism, and no I'm not a chicken farmer. I want you to watch the show again and tell me if you don't see all the issues I raised and more. The point is their Science was junk without a control, or a peer review. The journalism was misleading, biased and to a point sensational akin to the National Enquirer. This is not the first episode in which I noticed this, just the one that was so bad I couldn't ignore it.

In reply to a comment from Italia

Actually Italia, I'm not a chicken farmer, just a concerned viewer that has been watching the journalistic integrity of this show slide down. Their science was junk without a control group, it's as simple as that, (grade 9 science)! They implied things with editing that weren't true, (grade 11 Social Studies) and make people like you just assume that anyone with an opposing view must be a lobbyist for some evil profiteering corporation. No I just paid attention in school.


Umm... if only it was about avoiding modern food. Yes, kids do have stretch marks now as well as "then". Some have them because they're overweight... my brother and I were both on the skinny side (but tall) , and the doctor said that they were a normal part of growth spurts. We were both raised on a home vegetable garden, and our mother was a homeec teacher who took cooking "real" food very seriously.

I'm surprised that people are surprised. The fact that our MPs are surprised is ridiculous. Animal welfare groups have been talking about this issue for literally years and asking MPs to change it.

Just a tiny amount of inquiry will reveal really disturbing things about our food system. Does no one listen to the animal welfare groups? Why does it take a Marketplace segment for people to hear the truth? Try doing a Google search for "animal welfare" and "antibiotics" and just look at the reams of information there. Wake up people!!

In reply to a comment from Frank

Actually from what I saw it was 100 different packages of chicken ranging from chicken breast, thighs, wings, whole chickens etc. All from different supermarkets with different suppliers including free range or organically raised chicken that isn't fed antibiotics. I do not doubt any of the information that was provided in this episode especially the 79% rate of saemonella coming from restaurant industry food( ie fast food etc) Having have worked in the restaurant industry for the better part of the last 15 years I have seen some interesting things going on in kitchens.

In reply to a comment from Joanne

Yes!!!! are you the only intelligent person here? I dare e. coli and salmonella to try and enter my body. It will get destroyed!!! haha. Competitive environment not sterilization.

You'll realize that Mike Dungate is using doublespeak, something politicians use all the time to dodge answering the question.

In reply to a comment from InHamilton


The focus of scientists is at very detailed level, like that of measuring background versus intrinsic as you say, whereas journalistic programs like MP are not in the business of submitting scientific research manuscripts to peer-reviewed journals. Consider this: why did it finally take the University of Calgary to publish a research paper on the carcinogens expelled from the tar sands that have been killing First Nation people along the Athabasca river? It was because of reporting like this, without any scientific support, at all. It happens that MP wend one step further, and did some reasonable research in collaboration with established laboratories. Are you to believe that the clips The CBC National shows from YouTube coming from the inside of Libya are invalid, because they are "not official" journalistic reports?

Sure, MP did not show a lot things on the chicken problem. I would like to have seen some general data on the residual antibiotic effects after normal cooking. But, the program directors have only a 1/2 hour (20 minutes because they need to see a profit too) to raise one issue.

So while there might be some scientific flaws in a report like this, they do not invalidate the overall thrust, and that is to bring wide attention to the overall problem.

Again as scientist you would probably recognize the antibiotic issue is not just about viable bacteria that have to be killed by cooking before consuming which everyone knows, but also, that the raw antibiotics are present in the meat itself. How resistant are the antibiotics to safe breakdown themselves due to the cooking? Trace amounts or not, do you not think we ingest these as well, regardless of dead cooked bacteria?

Another flaw with the program Pharmacist LD raised is that Ceftiofur is not an antibiotic used in humans. If that one is getting into our bodies, do you not believe it should be more alarming, rather than less, and should be investigated with more vigor?

You claim to be a scientist. Have you ever had an itch in your nose while prepare chicken or any other meat, and scratched it, even with the back of your hand?

Finally, as far the well-recognized overprescribing issue, that was not the message of the MP report. The chicken farmers, processors and distributors all have a direct responsibility to the public. Fundamentally, if antibiotics in Canada are not regulated as they are in Europe, then whole chicken issue is a significant part of the problem, and not a significant part of the solution.

The real problem is not with bacteria, chickens, homeopathy, or companies fraudulently shoving their greedy hands into out pockets running off whatever they can steal. There will always be unscrupulous individuals in our societies, led by socially irresponsible giants like oil companies hiding behind a Ghadafi doll to justify their 20 cent increase in gas price over the last few days in Montreal for example, while our country hosts one of the largest oil reserves the world.

However, national health issues like chicken bacteria and scams like homeopathy that deceive people are so profound that one can only wonder about the protective value about one's own governments.

So the root of the problems is the provincial and federal government who we elect and pay to protect us. By inaction, or worse, by corporate favoritism as demonstrated in this piece, the space the governments give to these greedy perpetrators, incites fertile ground for individuals whose own behavior is exemplified in the bacteria they propagate in our lives: "cook your chickens and you won't get sick," so that they can continue feeding them antibiotics and making more money.

So Marketplace, thank you for more than just informing us, thank you for protecting us and getting government officials off their lazy butts to work for those high wages that we all pay for.

The chicken issue has to be escalated to the very top, immediately.

Actually, Beauchamp described the superbug, and much of Pasteur's work was plagiarized from him. That's why Pasteur's work makes so little sense...he borrowed what he wanted and left what he didn't understand. We have a very serious problem here as I have had personal experiences and two of my family members in nursing homes picked up MRSA and these bacteria are being blown off by the nursing homes as "not as serious as you might think..." I had two dental infections that wouldn't clear up, then a staph nasal infection that I had to use turmeric and grapefruit seed nasal spray to treat as the antiobiotics didn't work (twice). I eat a "purist" organic diet with farm-raised eggs, goat milk (they say they're not being treated...), so were am I getting the extra dosage of antibiotics from? Eggs? Chicken? I don't know, but our government needs to take this much more seriously than it is (and not be defending an industry that is ruining the health of the country).

Thanks for alerting me about the antibiotics resistant bugs on Loblaws Free-From Chicken. I have been buying that for my young son. Considering how much more expensive that chicken is comparing to conventional chicken, Loblaws and consumers alike should be appalled and demand the Free-From chicken farmers dig deep into the problem and change their practices.

Has anyone noticed that kids have stretch marks now. My children are young adults and along with many of their friends and my co-workers kids...Stretch marks! I believe this also is coming from our food.
Anyone agree ? Maybe it is time to investigate that also.

In reply to a comment from Gary Pettifor

Very informative...thank you

This was the most shocking thing I have watched for a while. All I can say is that it was
predicted by Einstein, proved by science, and hidden by the government.

Probiotics, not antibiotics; probiotics, not antibiotics; probiotics, not antibiotics...this is the answer.

In reply to a comment from Chuck Chamberlain

Great documentary. The solution is not local "humane" animal farms (does not exist) but instead the solution is to go vegan. We do not need animal flesh to live optimally, and the dangers associated with consuming their bodies is far too risky. This however is not the primary reason to go vegan: their is no moral justification for using and killing 56 billion land animals world every year (not including all the sentient sea animals).
fight for justice. Go vegan.

Good documentary

Bottom line:

-Don't trust the government to protect you when it comes to the food supply
-Avoid foods produced from large-scale farms
-Learn to find local sources of humanely/properly raised meats. Get to know your farmer

I thought CBC could've done a better job at stressing the latter as a solution to this problem. Until we stop buying meats from the grocery store we are voting with our dollars and supporting factory farming which has produced superbugs in the first place.

In reply to a comment from Steve Saunders

When antibiotics are used to kill people, your objection might make sense.

A farmer can raise chickens, pork, lamb, beef, turkeys whatever under the most natural conditions...cleanliness, no antibiotics etc. But the minute these animals go for 'processing' they are exposed to every kind of bug you can imagine. Let's take a look at our so called government controlled abatoirs & processing plants, shall we?

A local chicken factory has built a cooker to cook all of the feet, feather, guts etc. The residue left from this is sold to a feed company that mixes it in with chicken feed as a source of protein. All completely legal.

More reasons to go totally vegan. Thanks to CBC for this report. I recommend everybody watch the YouTube videos about "Animal Fat", "Dairy Facts", and "Food Matters". Remember, we are what we eat.

More reasons to go totally vegan. Thanks to CBC for this report. I recommend everybody watch the YouTube videos about "Animal Fat", "Dairy Facts", and "Food Matters". Remember, we are what we eat.

Watch the movie "Fowl Play" to find out where 95% of our chickens come from.

The show said there are 2/3 samples with antibiotics resistance, that's leave 1/3 "safer" to eat by human. Could you also list where you (and we) could buy that 1/3 ? Thanks

In reply to a comment from john

Excellent response, thank you!

The Canada Organic Standards stipulate:
"Poultry used for edible poultry products shall have been from poultry that have been under continuous organic management, in accordance with this standard, beginning no later than the second day of life; birds shall not have been given medication other than antibiotic-free vaccines."

As the organic movement grows, it may be possible to source organic chicks from organic hatcheries -- and the standard will be amended to require that organic parentage. Organic farmers follow best practices in an imperfect, polluted world. Their methods nourish life in the soil, promote biodiversity, reduce soil erosion and water pollution, and do not give meat animals antibiotics. The more the movement grows, the little bit cleaner the planet will be.

In reply to a comment from john

Well John, I hope your bottom line in your chicken factory isn't going to suffer too much by having the truth exposed. So much better to keep the masses uninformed. I suppose some graphics, like the hypodermic needles in dead chickens, was used for effect, but it sent the message home that when we buy your product we're buying a host of unwanted chemicals that will eventually harm us.
Maybe you could explain to us why Europe saw the need to ban the administering of antibiotics to healthy livestock? I guess their lobbying groups aren't as powerful as the ones here.

In reply to a comment from john

Are you a chicken farmer by any chance....protecting your profits?

I think it's fantastic to see so many Canadians concerned about the issues that have been mounting in North America i.e., large scale livestock operations, western agricultural practices, etc. After my daughter was born, we became much more cognizant of the quality of food offered by our local grocery stores (more like chains). The end result was getting in touch with where our food comes from and connecting with local livestock owners. We even raised our first chickens last year! I hope that Canadians will become more interested in what they eat and approach farmers in their area to understand what it means to "raise livestock". Only then will people see the quality of life livestock enjoy. I would also suggest looking up the by-laws for your area, chickens are not very difficult to raise and you will have complete control over their diet!

In reply to a comment from Pat

I own an egg farm. It is managed by myself and my wife with no employees. We have 11000 layers. We have never fed our hens antibiotics. Our hens are kept in cages, are given access to fresh water and fresh feed at all times. The cages separates the hens from their feces and this is what eliminates the need for antibiotics.

In reply to a comment from Dave Adams

Yeah, let's just stop eating everything. And why would Kosher be different? It's the same chicken just slaughtered differently.

I used to think Marketplace was a good show, but recently they have been sliding down into junkTV territory. TMZ produces more thought provoking and transparent stories. MP you are BUSTED for junk science and sensational journalism.
1 - The people you showed to have been affected with a resistant bug never said once it was from eating chicken, but you sure tried to make us believe it was. One of them was a researcher at Mac's bug lab!!! Where do you think he could have caught it, maybe at work?
2 - Showing hypodermic needles injecting raw chicken (often!!!) has no journalistic value, misleads some uninformed viewers into thinking that this is the way antibiotics are administered to chickens and repulses people. Don't tell me you didn't know that that image would disgust someone into never eating chicken again.
3 - Who was that so called expert you had on? What credentials did he have? All I could tell is that he was an 'antibiotic free chicken consumer' He was shocked to find bacteria on his 'special' chicken!!!!!
4 - Coming unannounced into an office, armed with data the other party was not privy to, and expecting an answer on the spot? Calling an office, with your cell phone, from outside, and expecting them to drop everything they are doing so that you can waltz into their office with a camera crew? What is your cell phone number Erica Johnson? I feel like just calling you whenever I want to ask you a question and bring my camera with me, and you better be around or I will post my side of the story on youtube, and boy will it look like you are hiding something.
5 - What the heck were you testing for, anyway? Who touched that chicken? Why didn't you test a live chicken from a farm? Why didn't you test strawberries, pork, beef, turkey, butter, lettuce, carrots as a control? What was the real point of your story other that disgusting and scaring people on ratings month?
6 - Spraying that chemical on ANYTHING and shining a fluorescent light on it will produce a 'positive' for signs of bacteria on EVERYTHING!!! This germ phobia could actually be a cause of superbugs in the first place.

In reply to a comment from Virginia

The farmer may own the farm... but they are owned by the corporation that the farmer purchase his animals/seed/feed/fertilize etc from. I live in Sask... there are lots of family owned farms... but you MUST buy your feed or seeds from a multinational corporation like Monsanto... all their products are genetically modified. You can not use any other seeds... ever. If you believe you own your "farm" I challenge you to try to raise crops or animals that are not purchased from a major corporation. Or to buy feed for your animals that is not modified by the people that own it. Try to feed your chickens feed that you grow. See if you can sell them. Wake up.

In reply to a comment from Mircea

Have you seen "The Cove" or listened to the news lately? well you probably should....we're depleting the ocean and filling ourselves with it's all just personal choice...most things are bad for us or bad for just need to make the least ignorant choice.

Has CBC Marketplace provided and approached Provincial Health Ministers their findings and get their comments and impression? If so what can the Province do to change these practicest that Health Canada seems unwilling and unconcerned to take responsiblity in living up to their Mandate of Protecting Canadians?

Very interesting. Purchasing antibiotic free will be my grocery list, food safe in the kitchen and cooking to proper internal temperature.
I checked out after watching this...I see they have a full page on antibiotics in poutlry. It seems that they are playing defense against the subject as they are huge dollars at play which seems to take precident over human health.

I watched your show last week and wrote our Member of Parliament because the show scared me. Attached is a copy of my email to him and a reply he received which was sent to me. Do you agree with the reply?

This is a frightening letter. I have sent it to the Minister of Health and the Yukon Medical Officer of Health for replies.

I have also sent it to our Chair of Rural Caucus and our Agricultural Critic for their information.

Thank you for sending me your concern.

Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

From: Bagnell, Larry - M.P.
Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 12:41 PM
To: Bagnell, Larry - M.P. Mobile
Subject: FW: Market Place on Chicken

Richelle Barrette
Member's Assistant
Hon. Larry Bagnell PC, MP, Yukon
House of Commons
Room 446-S, Centre Block
Tel: (613) 995-9368
Fax: (613) 995-0945

From: Pettifor []
Sent: February 16, 2011 12:40 PM
To: Bagnell, Larry - M.P.
Subject: Market Place on Chicken

Hi Larry a couple of days ago I watched Market Place. They tested 100 types of chicken that is sold in most of the main Canadian food stores. They picked what was labeled the best chicken. 99 out of 100 had super bugs. These super bugs are created by the Chicken farmers using antibiotics when they raise the chickens. When we eat the chicken we become resistant to the forms of antibiotics that the chickens are raised with. Most chickens showed resistant to 6-9 of the antibiotics that us humans need when we become sick. The show stated that the medical profession only has 11 antibiotics to use on humans. All of these antibiotics were found in the chicken tested. The main one found is the one doctor’s use on babies and elderly. They further tested chicken labeled antibiotic free chicken here they found up to 4 antibiotics in this chicken. This means that if we eat lots of chicken and get one of there super bugs or get a disease from anywhere else doctors will have no antibiotics to use that will cure us. This means that the food industry is literally doing genocide on our population. This is in excusable and should be criminal. Now that the chicken farmers know about what they are doing they should be put in prison if they do not stop what they are doing. I looked into raising chickens. There is a lot of money to be made here. They put about 100,000 chicks in a 40 foot by 300 foot barn and the chickens are raised in there until they are butchered. This means that they live on concrete floors most time in there own waste. Each day the average death toll is 6 chickens up to 24 chickens. These chickens are over crowded and are put in ideal conditions to create disease. In short the only reason that so many antibiotics are used is because of greed. A quick buck and to hell with the people who are going to die. I expect the government to immediately put corrective measures in place. This could be banning the use of all antibiotics or at least limiting the use to 3 or less types of antibiotics. Note a chicken farmer who raises his chicken’s antibiotic free took 10 weeks to raise chickens instead of 5 weeks. His chicken tested showed 4 types of antibiotics, he thought that this may have come right from the eggs as all of the chicken farmers get them from the same place. This also brings up the use of steroids to make the average chicken grow up in ½ the time. Surely this is being adsorbed into our children’s systems. God knows what this is doing to them. Where is our government? Where is the protection that I thought that we had??? What can we do and what are you going to do??

Gary Pettifor

I received an answer in 10 minutes. I hope this information helps allay your fears.


This segment made a direct assumption that the super bugs on chicken are connected to the antibiotics fed to chickens early in their lives. Can you clear that up? In a few simple sentences!


It’s unfortunate that the episode made this assumption and didn’t clarify the truth for consumers. To think that the resistant bacteria found in the study was all a result of antimicrobial use at the farm is incorrect. In chicken, bacteria can be passed from the parent flock and picked up from environments that the birds are in contact with including feed, water, and cross contamination at processing or at retail.

What’s interesting is that CBC’s own tests results prove that the assumption above is impossible – they found resistance to antibiotics that are simply not used for poultry production in Canada, and some samples had resistance to more antibiotics than would be administered to a chicken flock.

The truth is that there are numerous other sources of antimicrobial resistant bacteria; they’re endemic in the world. The industry is currently researching to identify sources that are outside of our control and identity control measures that can be implemented.


Are these superbugs anywhere else?


Yes. Bacteria are everywhere and so is antimicrobial resistance. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are not solely from chicken or the agricultural sector. An unfortunate, but good example that we’ve all heard about in the news is the resistant bacteria found in some hospitals.  That doesn’t come from agriculture.

To put this into perspective, studies have even demonstrated antimicrobial resistance in wild animals – part of this is because antimicrobial resistance is a natural defence mechanism of bacteria.

What’s more, “superbugs” is actually a misnomer. Bacteria have inherent, pre-existing resistances. For example, salmonella in the CBC Marketplace study were resistant to erythromycin – the reality is that all salmonella are inherently resistant to all macrolide antibiotics, a family of antibiotics which includes erythromycin. This resistance has nothing to do with drug use whatsoever.


What is the CFC doing about the antibiotic issue?


There’s a lot that CBC obtained from CFC that didn’t get onto the broadcast. For instance, what you didn’t hear is that Chicken Farmers of Canada is actively implementing a plan to deal with antimicrobial resistance – here are some examples:

1.      Chicken farmers have implemented an On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program (OFFSAP) to standardize on-farm food safety production practices whereby all farms receive yearly audits. A part of that program includes a mandatory recording and reporting of antimicrobial use. CFIA veterinarians verify these reports to determine that antibiotics were used as per their label or with a veterinary prescription and that the antibiotics are being used at the appropriate dosage for the appropriate application. Any product failing this investigation is not allowed on the market. Additionally, as part of the annual OFFSAP audit, auditors audit the antibiotic usage and ensure withdrawal times are adhered to.

2.      CFC is actively involved in funding research examining antimicrobial resistance and alternatives to antibiotic use, to the tune of over $1.4 million which has been matched to a level of over $5.1 million.

3.      CFC has established a working group with industry stakeholders with the objective of reducing antibiotic usage.

4.      CFC is working cooperatively with the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS) of the Public Health Agency of Canada to perform surveillance and will be expanding this to include antibiotic usage and resistance levels at the farm level.

5.      It’s indeed important for chicken farmers to be diligent, but part of that diligence includes how we also work to educate consumers on safe handling and cooking of chicken through the website and involvement in the “Fight Bac” and “Be Food Safe” programs.

This is an important issue, and Canadian chicken farmers are committed to working with all of its government and industry partners to ensure that the chicken being produced is of the highest and safest quality.


Can’t Canada just follow the EU and eliminate the use of antibiotics?


Firstly, let’s clarify, the EU has not banned the use of antibiotics – this wasn’t made as clear as it could have been. Both the Canadian government and poultry industry have been watching the European Union very carefully. However, there is no silver bullet solution and the European Union experience has not been a complete success.

Through a succession of bans, the European Union implemented a precautionary principle and banned the majority of all feed antibiotics used for livestock agriculture. Again, it should be made clear that this is not a full ban on antibiotics, as antibiotics to cure sick animals can still be used.

While this approach has reduced the overall amount of medications being used, the effect has been to remove older drugs with narrow spectra of activity with little or no use in human medicine. The negative side to the EU story is that there has been a significant increase in the amount of antibiotics that are being used to treat sick animals, and the ones that are used are more closely associated to human medicine, specifically fluoroquinolones and macrolides. That’s a risk.

At the end of the day, public health is the objective; implementing a ban that would raise the use of more antibiotics of human importance to be used is not the desired outcome.

Therefore, rather than follow the same approach as the European Union, Canada is examining the ways of reducing the overall use of antibiotics, while focusing on those that are of a higher importance to human medicine. The key is prudent use, and this is why the industry is spending resources researching alternatives and reduction strategies.

Based on the EU experience, the USA is following much the same approach as Canada.


Why isn’t Health Canada involved?


That’s not the case at all.  In fact, the Canadian government is very involved in antimicrobial approvals, regulations, policies and use for veterinary drugs.

Health Canada, through the Veterinary Drugs Directorate, is responsible for the evaluation, approvals and oversight of veterinary antibiotics.

The Public Health Agency of Canada, through the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS) which has been active since 2002, performs surveillance at processing and retail outlets to assess antimicrobial resistance trends. The CIPARS reports are used by industry and government to guide public health policy.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is involved in monitoring for antimicrobial residues and for monitoring antimicrobial use and withdrawal periods by way of the CFIA veterinarians at federal processing plants. Federal regulations require chicken farmers to report all antibiotics that have been used for each flock prior to the birds being processed.

These government networks provide for an integrated oversight from approval through to use.


Are we actually eating the antibiotics in the chicken?


No. Consumers should be confident that chicken is free of antibiotic residues. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) performs tests on an annual basis to assess any chemical residues in meat and poultry products. These CFIA tests demonstrate that antibiotic residues are not present in chicken meat.

As stated earlier, antibiotic usage is reported to CFIA veterinarians at the processing plant where CFIA veterinarians verify these reports to determine that antibiotics were used as per their label or with a veterinary prescription and that the antibiotics are being used at the appropriate dosage for the appropriate application. Any product failing this investigation is not allowed on the market.



What can my readers do to prevent consumption of antibiotic resistant bacteria?


Everyone has a role to play.  Government oversees and put regulations and inspection methods in place; farmers make sure that the product is safe and healthy before it gets to the processing plant; the plants work to ensure that it’s delivered that way to its customers, whether it’s at restaurants or retail; consumers are the next link in the safety chain.  We’ve heard for years that chicken needs to be handled and cooked properly because of bacteria. These tried and true messages continue to resonate for this issue.

Cooking kills bacteria – and therefore inactivates any antimicrobial resistance.  Be sure to cook your chicken to an internal temperature of 74 degrees C (165 F) for pieces and 85 degrees C (185 F) for a whole chicken.

A good tool for consumers to remember are the “FightBac!” and “Be Food Safe” programs which focus on the consumer food safety measures of clean, separate, cook and chill.


Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

In reply to a comment from Sue

You really need to explore this endeavour to understand the requirements and reality of costs. As for the eggs, they come out the cloaca--there is fecal matter there, the eggs are given an antibiotic to ensure -- with all the costs invested in it--that it will provide an infection free environment for the chick to develop and hatch. From that point on, there is no antibiotic, the antiobiotic leaves the body (as in antiobiotics are not forever in our body once we are done, though some take longer than others)--this part of chick processing is not the abuse of antibiotic that generates the superbug populations--it is no different in principle than getting a tetanus shot when you get a deep cut--it is merely preventive in what will become a high risk environment for the chick--ever see a defective incomplete chick from an infection? I have. I'd rather see the little critter live to hatch.

In reply to a comment from Mircea

umm fish is meat--not red necessarily but still it is animal--and you think there are no bugs in fish? or chemicals for that matter???? dear, you haven't done your research.

In reply to a comment from farmgal

Thanks for the correction. The point argued was that a farmer could double his profit by using antibiotics.

Great program. Time to stop eating chicken. What about kosher chicken?

In reply to a comment from Mircea

Sorry to burst your "fish" bubble but the fish are fed mercury with their feed to plump them up.

And most of the super market fish are raised and not wild. Now we got GMO fish trying to make it to our plates.

Europeans are much smarter than North Americans when it comes to food.

In reply to a comment from Virginia

In Ontario, any "farmer" with over 300 chickens have to come up with upto $2,000,000 start a chicken business.

It is wrong to imply that any farmer can jump into the chicken business.

Your family runs a corporate chicken franchise.

"Farmer" is just a cool title.

Just like the egg industry decides to change the name to fool the consumers.

If everyone stopped eating everything that is "supposed" to be bad for us...we'd all stave to death!

In reply to a comment from Sue

It is always so interesting to read "organic" chicken versus "non organic chicken, just as if this beautiful little life is nothing more than an oak floor is better than a linoleum floor. Where along the way have people become so entirely disconnected from the life, the beautiful innocence around us?

Best thing is NOT TO EAT MEAT ANYMORE ! Eat fish instead !



I was surprised to learn that organic chicken is raised from non-organic chicks. There should be separate hatcheries to supply the organic industry.
It would have been interesting to test organic chicken sold through organic butchers, thus bypassing the retail distribution network.

Just read on your site NOT to wash the chicken first because it sprays everywhere--don't run the water so hard and WASH the sink and counters after, like your wash your hands. the chicken NEEDS to be washed--it is like eating produce from your manure-covered garden without washing it--yeah you cook it, but still-EW! I believe most of this hype is about prevalence of the bacteria--it seemed like superficial testing (surface)was done -- was the blood of these chickens tested? are ALL these chickens carrying superbugs OR were the contaminated in the processing and was it in huge amounts or in liveable amounts (quantity matters--I can find e.coli anywhere, its in our gut naturally, but a LOT is different than merely present)? they are all bathed in the same water (fecal soup I've heard in a much earlier program some 20 years ago) so of course this bacteria will be prevalent on the surfaces of storebought chicken, though it is a huge concern that it is resistant, but your story is very multifacited and I couldn't pin it down to your lone issue--is it bacteria everywhere (of course it is!)? is it that there are superbugs? is it that our food processing has helped generate superbugs (humans have contributed, not just our foods)? This type of issue was brought to public attention a LONG time ago, this is not new, I've been teaching this concept of superbugs and antiobiotic use (abuse) by humans and its use in feed for more than 20 years, I found your story somewhat incomplete (though more thorough than most) and it only raised more questions for me, and Im sure mislead some folks into the realities of our processing of our food--the best thing is to grow your own food--good luck passing that at city hall!

In reply to a comment from rose

To say that Farm Family no longer exsists is just plain wrong....and 'decades' ago...really!?!?! My family are still very successful farmers, with a significant amount of poultry quota in Ontario. There are many farms in Southern Ontario that are still very much run by a family. In general I think many of the comments on this site are from people that assume to know too much about somthing they have not actually many of you have actually lived on a farm? Worked in a processing plant? or even a feed mill...who amung you is actually from the poultry industry!?!?!?!

In reply to a comment from John Schneider

What feed company do you work for? Until you have actually raised chickens yourself or worked within the industry you should not be so quick to discount someone else's never know 'mackenzie' could be one of the largest private growers in fact I have it on good athority that she is!

In reply to a comment from Karen

I don't think we need to stop eating meat to send a message to the food industry. I buy all of my meat from a local farm with ethical practices. It is more expensive, but we make up for it by having smaller portions of meat, which is also healthier for us.

In reply to a comment from munni_ki_murgi_badnaam_huyi

For your information,

Generally, Bacterial would be killed in boiling water( 100 Cels) about 30-60min or in steam (200-300 cels) after 10-15 min. Some need more time. So cook sometime is not enough.

I really feel for the farmer--we (consumers) demand consistent food, biggest portions, freshest possible--and LOTS of it--at home and especially when we eat out. The profit margin for a chicken farmer is a liveable wage--to send a child to university perhaps a trip or two every once in awhile--it is not millions in their pocket--the industry includes processors, and grocery stores (who get far more the chick than farmers do, overhead included). By buying organic we are supporting change, we increase demand, more farmers take this on, more product available and price may drop a little--maybe stores can also do their part and not mark such a high overhead cost for a so-called "niche" product--otherwise this is what it is, our own making (our societal desire--not the farmers alone). The drug resistant bacteria will not go away--it is here and we should not be surprised to find it on organics any more than we would be suprised to find fellow humans have drug resistent TB that we can get--we share our germs and spread them freely--so too in processing of food. Now we wait for evolution arms race to take its course--we either develop resistance naturally (which is not pleasant--check the history prior to the 1940s), a new drug( and pay $5 a pill for it), or not.

does chicken cooked under heat make any difference???

i think those SUPERBUGS can be antibiotic resistant but not HEAT-RESISTANT???




In reply to a comment from Cheryl MacNaughton

Best of luck Cheryl. There are just as many food poisonings from pathogens that are present on fresh fruits and vegetables, as there are on animal products. see link.

In reply to a comment from Virginia

I always get a kick out of people who consider programs like Marketplace, irresponsible journalism, when daily we are bombarded with deliberate misleading and contrived information to convince us to think the same way as the most powerful people in today's society. It is this mainstream garble that is the true danger not programs with integretiy like MarketPlace. True journalism is done with courage and compassion to prevent harm and suffering of others,no matter who or what industry is exposed for wrongful practices! Everyone must have the right to make a living but not at the expense of harming others. I commend and support organic farmers worldwide who genuinely are concerned about the safety of our food source!

Reliable facts are easy to find. Try reading "Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production In America". This is a report from the U.N. Pew Commisssion. Read Health Canada's "Uses of Antimicrobials in Food Animals: Impact on Resistance and Human Health". Both these documents are available with a google search. Both were prepared by reliable sources and both point to a looming problem being caused by the use of antibiotics in food aniamls. The government of Canada admits it does not keep close enough track of the problem of antimicrobial resistance.
Add to this the issues of animal welfare of food animals raised in factory farm conditions as well as the serious environmental damages caused by global animal and livestock production, and we've got a serious problem on our hands.
The goal of the meat industry is to grow animals in the fastest time possible, in the smallest space possible for the largest profit possible. No wonder industry representatives can't defend their practices with any conviction.
We all have a say in this by using our food dollars wisely. I don't eat meat any more, yet I do eat wild caught fish. Even if you consume a little less meat each week,you're making an important statement that you don't support the meat industry.
Eating less meat is a healthier choice and better for the environment and the animals.

One questions, what precautionary measures did they take to reduce/eliminate the risk of cross contamination between different chicken products on the shelf in the stores, in the carts, on the checkout belts, in the meat department's handling of the chicken, and with other consumers touching the chicken? I know from working in a grocery store for the past 3 years that there is a lot of cross contamination, even when using the small plastic bags provided. I also know that the meat department workers like to wear fabric gloves to protect their fingers from the cold. These gloves act like sponges and can absorb and grow different bacteria off of any meat product, and can transfer those to any other meat product that they touch. There are way too many variables to just place blame on all of the chicken farmers and certain products. To be sure you would have to get your chicken products directly from the source to reduce the risk of potential secondary cross contamination from the workers, the other consumers, the shelf/storage bins, ect. Though the idea was good...I think they missed necessary steps in ensuring that their data was truly and fully accurate and valid.

I completely agree with Bradley. Why did they not tell us even one of the brands of chicken tested that did NOT have these superbugs? I am making a plea to the producers of this show or anyone involved in the testing to post a comment on this web page to let us know which brands tested well. CBC, you owe this to your viewers or else you are just as bad as the farmers who are using excessive antibiotics! Someone please let us know!

In reply to a comment from mackenzie

McKenzie...Sadly, YOU are the one that is misinformed. Chicken rations are supplemented with anti-biotics and other medication from DAY 1 of their lives. For their entire 8 week life, they ingest medication until 2 days prior to slaughter. Stop with the head-in-the-sand attitude.

The 'chicken' show failed to ask/answer a key question - why is it that we are not all dead of 'superbug' infections? So I asked a friend, retired epidemiologist Dr. Bill Hall, of the State of Michigan. Part of his job was to respond to media hysteria created, as he said, when some TV station decided to swab a grocery store, public toilet, or their mothers' kitchens, and were appalled at the 'bugs'. This happens every so often, as now.

There are simple answers to the question of why we are not dead. First, we have learned to cook our chicken and to handle it properly. This is important, and I will give Marketplace kudos for the reminder. As for what might find its way into our and our children's mouths, well, some of it might make us sick, but salmonella in the GI tract is not usually treated with antibiotics and we heal in other ways. Should one be unfortunate enough to get a blood infection, which is rare, antibiotics might be needed, and one hopes that an antibiotic is available that will work against whatever bug has done the dirty deed. And yes, one might die. We are mortal. The battle between 'bugs' and antibiotics has been ongoing since the beginning of antibiotics, and it continues. We live in a world full of bacteria. It is a necessary part of life. So please, I am sure you can come up with a better answer to the question of why we are not all dead. Ask around and do something to calm the hysteria. Chicken is good! I think you put an unfair onus on farmers, who deserve our gratitude and respect.

Fortunately growth hormones and steroids have been illegal in Canada since the 1960's.

But too many antibiotics are used. Eggs same problem.

The cost of an organic chicken or a dozen eggs is close to three times the price in Nova Scotia. Probably not overly affordable for the average sized family.

um...i am only a few minutes in, and i am concerned with what they are this not the very reason we are supposed to cook our meat? you can't get any more organic than we eat a lot of moose...i understand the antibiotic issue...go wild

In reply to a comment from Gary Goode

Well said, Gary. I agree.
Now who and where do we start with our protest and requests?

In reply to a comment from Virginia

I for one am grateful that this information is presented to the public otherwise the poisoning of our food will increase or at least continue.
It is factual info that more and more people are becoming resistant to antibiotics and it is a fact that "SUPERBUGS" do exist and are increasing.
Those were real people that were being treated with 'special' antibiotics to try and kill those
bugs. As for being brought up on the 'Family Farm' well you are as much out of touch as most of todays generation that were brought up in Urban areas for the simple reason thae family farms have being taken over in North America decades ago by the large comglomerates and Profit at any cost is the rule.
I trust we all take this serious before any of our family or children are lost to this cash first reasoning.

We live in a free, capitalistic society and have a tendency to take things to the point of extinction before we react. This is a good example how things play out. The number of samples given, ones not given is irrelevant.It's only a problem when you or a family member becomes sick or dies then it becomes relevant. Whether it is are generation or the next it will happen. It;s amazing how people unaffected reflect on the cost of raising or purchasing the product as a reason for keeping their heads stuck in the sand. Good report and good info on what the conglomerates whose focus is on the bottom line while working within the guidelines set out by guess who. We live for today.

I don’t think any of our food is as healthy as it used to be. It doesn't matter if it's beef, poultry, pork, fish, vegetables, fruits or grains, etc. So don't think that by changing to a vegan or vegetarian diet you have nothing to worry about. How do you know that the water going on your fruits, vegetables and grains isn't contaminated? Everything is being tampered with. How much of our food is already genetically modified or injected with chemicals, growth hormones, and other additives without our knowledge?

I was wondering if CBC has a list of all the bad chickens around the country. I am from Saskatchewan and I would like to find out what brands of chickens are affected in my area.
I am also curious to know if most other animals we eat are also injected with antibiotics.
And why did MP not mention how to clean the kitchen with bleach water after preparing a chicken. We have been cleaning our kitchen with a bleach water soaked dish cloth for many years after handling chicken, pork, ground beef and even fish without any problems.

What about cartons of chicken broth? Are they too full of antibiotics?

How do we stop this madness?

So if you are so well informed, pick a point and enlighten the rest of us.

I found this article/video very interesting. I have been dealing with chronic UTI for 2 years and can't seem to get better. It makes me sad to think that we are so careless with our food. After all, you are what you eat. I have 2 small kids and I worry about what they ingest constantly - so much so that my husband and I bought a farm so that we can raise our own meat, fruit and veg. I have always thought that too many of us eat with out a conscious effort made in the direction of where our food came from, but now I feel sick that the people who are eating consciously are at risk as well. Soooo sad. Thanks you for making this public!

No mention on how the chicken is cut up and packaged.Maybe that is where contamination occurs on the chicken from farmers who don't use antibiotics. Swabing the butcher blocks would be revealing.

In reply to a comment from Brian Blackadar

Chickens are raised in 5 WEEKS not 5 DAYS. GOOD GRIEF!!

Not long ago, the only way to be infected with multiple-drug-resistant bacteria was if an individual didn't take his prescriptions properly. So the average person could avoid an untreatable infection through common sense.

Then, the most common way was at hospitals, and so anyone undergoing surgery was at risk for surgical infections that are hard to treat.

Now, the supermarkets are giving us meat covered in multiple-drug-resistant bacteria, putting us all at risk, by contaminating the kitchens of all meat-eating Canadians.

The government needs to step up and regulate the use of antibiotics by farms, otherwise this will evolve into one of the most serious heath issues our country has ever faced -- much more severe and widespread than Mad Cow disease.

CBC's programme made it clear that the chicken industry is unwilling to regulate itself, and completely unconcerned about creating conditions that generate these bacteria. The science of drug resistance has been established for years, and the chicken industry has had plenty of opportunity to understand the dangers of using advanced antibiotics in feed. But they simply and knowingly chose to endanger the Canadian public, just to increase profits.

The type of regulation needed, and the kinds of penalties and enforcement remains to be debated, but whatever the solution, the chicken industry has made it clear to us that it cannot be trusted to police itself.

Has anyone ever noticed that in all meat stores, the cutting board and blades are never cleaned between cutting jobs? All types of meat are cut as needed by the same cutting equipment and on the same cutting shelves, and I've never seen anyone taking the time to sanitize between cutting jobs. Cross contamination - you betcha!!!!

I have a question...did they ever look at the cross contamination that can happen in grocery stores? I know from having worked at a grocery store that the organic and the non-organic (and so on) sit in the shelf next to one another, and if people move the food around they can sit on top of one another. There is also the fact that people seem to like to touch other things and then touch the could the bacteria possibly be transfered from doing that to the chicken product it's self...since the packages are not air tight...and often leak all over everywhere? Even if people do use the little protective bags leakage and cross contamination can occur. They would also have to take a look at the meat department workers who handle the food...most often wearing fabric gloves to protect their fingers from the cold, but they act as essentially sponges carrying bacteria from one product to the next and giving it an opportune place to grow. If you are going to do a study you do need to take into consideration all of the possible factors involved...and you would have to get the chicken directly from the provider to see if the bacteria was there before the possibility of cross contamination or not.

having watched episode 38, as a food processor in a poultry plant, it makes me wonder what do the grower's of turkey's give their birds for antibiotics? Also as a food handler in the industry, I should be the most aware of safe food handling in my own kitchen. Seeing all the bacteria show up in the test kitchen worried me. Am I doing what I can for my family as far as spreading bacteria to other surfaces? Some of the products that were on the show have been eaten by my family. Makes me a bit nervous to continue to buy these products even with the knowledge of proper cooking temp's. I do agree that if growers don't stop giving antibiotic's to their birds, we will in time, be back to the old times when a simple infection may be your demise. Scary thought!

In reply to a comment from Steve

To say that our animals have a steady stream of antibiotics from day one is just idiotic and sadly misinformed. One hardly knows where to begin with the amount of ignorance that has been written on this subject.

What I did not like was that they did not tell us which brands, were good! Not tell me that two thirds contained super bugs, and not tell me which 3rd did not. They showed Costco, but did not say anything about it.

In reply to a comment from mark

Mark we agree and are planning on an event to do just that. Looking for more serious responses like your first, for greater impact!! Please contact us concerned group and growing movement.

The tricky thing about presenting this type of information to the general public, is that in general we cannot be the experts on everything and are easily swayed to believe everything we see on TV...based on the tone of most comments it clear MP has produced the effect they intended. Too bad MP practices 'selective journalism'. To even imply what was aired is the whole story is ridiculous. I doubt the 'statistics' used are even relevant considering the volume of poultry in question and the sampling technique is flawed to say the least...nothing like making grand conclusions from 'weak' science. Doubt if any credible journal would have published this story. I grew up on a FAMILY FARM and have worked in processing plants, my parents are still farmers and have been for 40 years...I am proud of my farm family! Even with more poultry experience then the general public I would not be so arrogant as to claim myself an expert. But you don't need to be an expert, just use a little common sense. If farmers actually did use all the hormone and antibiotics people claim they do...what do you think would happen to the cost for chicken??? This is after all a business and farmers need to make money to survive, as do processing plants, hatcheries, feed mills and grocery stores...after everyone adds in their mark-ups what do you really think the farmer is getting paid per pound? Not enough to pay for ‘force feeding’ and a ‘drug cocktail’!

In reply to a comment from Brian Blackadar

Get the facts staight from the organic producer, its 10weeks not ten days and yes we do have to get a prescription from a vet to use the drugs.

In reply to a comment from Steve

How can consumers make informed food choices when we can't trust what the labels on packages are telling us?

Please publish the full test results for the 100 samples (instead of 39). O/W it seems that MP is trying to hide something.

Also, MP or the CFIA should launch an investigation if these superbugs originate from the farm or the processing plant or the packagers. (It doesn't help if the farmers clean up their act the and processor do not).

In reply to a comment from Brian Blackadar

You said "He said, that it takes him 10 days to bring a chick to market without antibiotics, and that the use of antibiotics would reduce this to 5 days." It was actually mentioned in the video was 10 weeks and 5 weeks....not days.

Thank you for an excellent report. Clearly it illustrates the weakness in Federal legislation in dealing with the amount of antibiotics in food. Sad to see that the Government is not indicating a course of action even though their own reports are indicating a potential danger with the amount of antibiotics used in the poultry industry.

Please, write to your MPs and ask them to raise this issue with the governments, asking for a legislation that would ban the use of antibiotics in Canadian meat (beef is another kind of meat that is regularly pumped with antibiotics).

Who is really responsible for your health and the health of your country?

Both Liberal and Conservative governments have controlled Health Canada for the benefit of big business and thus their political parties for way to long. Government and Health Canada are suppose to be protecting the health of Canadians, not the Agra, Pharma, Petroleum and Chemical industries.

Health Canada has never really done the research that is required to insure a product is safe for use or consumption in this country. Instead they have done what our government has told them to do. They have been told to support the findings of, out of control big business, to the determent of our health.

A perfect case in point is the Canadian Government using Health Canada to support the fraudulent health risk assessment of the toxic chemicals sprayed at CFB Gagetown. This assessment was conducted by none other than the chemical industry itself and the Canadian Government ordered Health Canada to support the fraudulent study of the Chemical Industry and dam the thousands of solders and civilians their criminal actions destroyed.

So hopefully you can see where the problems lies. Is it the Canadian Government, no matter the party in power, taking care of it's self to insure there are no criminal charges brought against them for the crimes they have committed on our behalf? NO.

The problem lies with the Canadian citizen, who is more than willing to blindly support politicians who have proven themselves to be nothing more than criminals themselves, who care for no one but themselves and are not one bit concerned about what you think of them, except on Remembrance Day or election day.

So Canada, if you really want to lay blame on someone for not only the health of yourself, but also the health of our country, you need not look any further than your bathroom mirror to see who is truly the guilty one.

If organic chickens are carrying antibiotic resistant bacteria, I'm wondering about the organic eggs that we eat???

Why do the hosts of this show think they can call a Minister or a company owner from their cell phone while they are outside their building and expect an interview immediate (or shortly thereafter)? How about making an appointment? If I were to call any one of the hosts (or writers) of Market Place would they be available immediately? Or might they be busy at with work, or in a meeting, or away from their desk, or off-site? This tactic is ludicrous. Shouldn’t they simple say we tried to contact them but they refused an interview or something? Come on, get real. Stop dramatizing things, we’re not 5 years old without any logic.

In reply to a comment from dara

You saying farmers don't eat what they grow?? Are you an idiot!! of course they do. Any farmer will eat anything they grow. That farm you where on said there chickens were seperate, because it is illegal to pull chickens out of a quota regulated barn!!!

Let’s remember, this is television and the catchy stories are intended to be somewhat informative to the average person. Market Place’s (MP) episodes have become more sensational over the years to draw a larger audience but they are in no way thorough. If you want to know more you have to read real journals or books. MP has the budget for a lab to perform tests on 100 chicken samples, but not the budget to conduct more research and present a more complete story.

Since the organic farmer interviewed at the end stated why he thinks his chicks are resistant to certain antibiotics, why didn’t MP ask the infectious disease specialists (the expert interviewed earlier on) what he thought the reason might be? Moreover, the show made no mention of the quantities of antibiotics left over in the meat.

I agree with Tom below who made many valid points about sources of contamination and about farmers following government regulations rather than blaming everything on them. Neither did MP attempt to perform a similar analysis of meat from cows or pigs. Why not? Aren’t antibiotics used there, too?

In reply to a comment from herve

YOu are suggesting that farmers shouls stop using "hormones,antibiotics and drugs " to feed there livestock?? Obviously you are compelety ignorant to how things work. The livestock industry doesn't use such things. If you would like information talk to the people that make feed for livestock, or farmers. Why would a farmer spend money on hormones when they can hardly make money because people do not want to pay for fodd!!!!!!! Get your facts streaight before tossing ideas around!!

First of all, some bacteria are INHERENTLY resistant to some antibiotics (meaning they never have nor ever will kill those bacteria). Also, when you cook the food, you kill 99.9% of the bacteria. And really people if it hasn't killed us yet is it going to?

I am in shock...I cannot believe that people are just realizing this now. The hormones and medications force fed to our food supply for the sake of speed raising them to make a buck!

I have been eating "Natural & Organic (My Spouse hunts) Local for my veggies and if I cannot get it that way......we don't eat it.

A Free Range Chicken and the eggs taste far far better than the injected chickens in the store.

Good arguments given on all sides. This is an eye opener for a lot of people and there are many opinions. The one side of this argument that was not discussed and I would like to see exposed is how much of this cross contamination actually happens in the meat packaging rooms in our local supermarkets and is it only contained to the chicken and not all the other products that are packaged there. Who is to say that this contamination is not passed on to our roasts and steaks, etc. That could be a good follow up to this show.

In reply to a comment from Heather

I think blaming GPs today is a copout. Doctors have been cutting way back on subscribing antibiotics unless necessary for some time now. But it appears that farmers have been making up for that by loading up their animals with antibiotics putting us all at risk. Chicken and fish are the only animals I eat, now, I think I'll be going vegetarian.

As a canadians we do not think we have these problems, Great work in bring this problem to light, I suggest we now do our part and contanct our members ASAP.Health canada needs to start listing to the people and also working for use.

I was disgusted that no one from the government, who sets agricultural policy, refused to speak on camera. It should be the law that those responsible for policy cannot bob and weave and hide. Those in government need constant reminders who they are working for. Where are questions from the Opposition? Instead of spending billions on armaments and jet fighters, how about a safe food agricultural policy?

In reply to a comment from herve

Herve, ditto! This goverment requlations make us all sick, literally.

Doctors over prescribing is not on them we as Individuals need to start taking responsibility for ourselves.

People these days EXPECT a doctor can fix everything and go to the hospital for every little thing instead of staying home
and letting your body fight it off on it's own. Which then infects more people. People in society will not deal with pain or discomfort because they know a doctor can make it easier.
I myself have not taken a antibiotic or any medicine in the last 4 years and because of that I feel that I'm the healthiest I have ever been.

But the choice on antibiotics/prescriptions from your doctors is YOURS!
People start taking responsibility for your own life.

In reply to a comment from Heather

That is true Heather that we overuse and misuse antibiotics on humans and that also leads to antibiotic resistant bugs, but that doesn't negate the fact that factory farms overuse and misuse leading to antibiotic resistant drugs. And for those that do, at least humans typically have some sort of sickness before they get antibiotics. And it's also only 20 mins long, there is only so much one can cover in 20 minutes.

And just because antibiotic free chicken has some superbugs on it, doesn't mean it is not the right way to go. Like they said in the show, it could have happened at the any stage in the lifecycle as there are a lot of shared pieces, such as the egg stage, maybe someone who handles the chickens is contaminated with superbugs say at the slaughterhouse or even someone visiting the farm(say an inspector that just visited another farm and is contaminated bringing those bugs to the antibiotic free farm), slaughterhouse, processing plant, etc. If all chickens were raised without antibiotics, the incidence of superbugs on all chicken would be much much lower.

You claim that chickens would get sick without daily antibiotics, so how do you explain organic chickens not all being sick? Most of us wouldn't be against the use of antibiotics on chickens that are sick, but to use them all the time for all chickens is not a good idea. Antibiotics aren't for keeping you from getting sick, they are for helping you get healthy when you get sick from bacteria.

You also forget to mention that widespread use of antibacterial soap also contributes to this issue.

In reply to a comment from Heather

I found your critique here to be a little lopsided. You seem to argue that because physician over prescription of antibiotics exists, the passive use of them in daily livestock production is a negligible reality. Any animal raised in an intensive manner, this constitutes nearly all meat products available at your standard supermarket, is fed a steady stream of antibiotics from the day they enter the lot to the day they leave. For chickens, this means that they have it in their food from the day they are able to eat to the day they are slaughtered: 30 days roughly.
The living conditions are filthy and mass amounts of bacteria are exposed to a steady stream of antibiotics. This is a reality of how our birds are raised. This is not good for us. We are breeding bacteria that can kill us. If you buy the chickens raised in this manner you are contributing to the problem. It would be like going back, repeatedly, to a doctor that was giving you antibiotics for illnesses you knew you didn’t have.
You argue that if farmers didn’t use the drugs, the birds would die or be ill. This is a fallacy. The birds would die or get ill because the manner they were being raised in is incorrect. Putting thousands of genetically poor birds in a barn is cheap, but is not sanitary or safe. Chickens are incredibly easy creatures to raise. They have good immune systems and with the proper conditions nearly all the animals will be healthy and alive at the time of slaughter. It is the mentality of the poultry industry and the Poultry Farmers of Canada that causes the problem. Our food system can and should be free of drugs such as antibiotics. Making informed food choices is important and buying safe and healthy food sends the signal that the consumer will not buy anything less. Until people stop buying unhealthy and unsafe chicken, the industry will keep producing them.

In reply to a comment from Heather

It is scary how much is kept secret from the general public regarding the foods we consume. The movie 'Food, Inc' is another eye opener to the declining food quality due to corporations who now control agriculture and food manufacturing on a global scale.

Interesting episode and great comments. It's nice to see that many Canadians are interested in a topic such as food safety. We now live in a world where agriculture is so very distant from the overwhelming majority of Canadians. Many question why we have industrial farms which produce mass amounts of food (many refer to these as factory farms). These industrial farms did not appear over night, nor are they owned solely by faceless corporations. These industrial farms evolved because of our industrial society, and the need to continually be able to feed growing populations as cheaply as possible. As the show eluded to, it is up to you as the consumer to make the change. And if there is a strong movement towards a new kind of product(s) farmers will grow those products for you, simply because that is were the demand is. But, if society continues to want food as cheap as possible, nothing will change.

Thank you for your wonderful show "Superbugs in the Supermarket." I'm sure you've opened a lot of people's eyes about the disaster that is just around the corner. The only small change I would have suggested is that you mention that if people switched to a vegetarian diet, this catastrophe would be averted.

Does anyone else not find antibiotics just scary?
You are ingesting a toxic mold into your system, possibly distracting your bodies natural mechanism of fighting off a pre-existing infection?.. Body see's more potentially harmful situation, shifts focus to fight off the deadly mold.. no more inflammation, no more symptoms, we are all better now right? or wrong? 3 weeks later, the infection is back, the toxic mold is gone, so the body can go back to fighting off the infection? Seems like a more logical theory to me..

From a scientific perspective, this piece has major problems and could be used as a case study of how journalists manipulate facts to incite needless panic. The so-called "study" that MP conducted lacks peer-review or meaningful comparisons to results from other jurisdictions (such as the US or EU) that are critical is establishing relative risk. To be clear, all Salmonella, E. coli and Campybacter are killed by proper cooking and thus all infections caused by these food-borne pathogens are due to improper cooking or, importantly, contamination after cooking--something producers cannot control. The number of antibiotics that a given bacterium is resistant to is not really meaningful unless we know that this is above background levels of intrinsic resistance, information MP chose not to present. As mentioned elsewhere in posts, the role of the medical community in overprescribing antibiotics to the resistance is probably much more important than the feed issue.

Want to also send a very big thankyou to Market Place. Thank goodness you guys exist..
well done

In reply to a comment from Heather

just wanted you to know that the anitbiotics are used to grow bigger chickens.... on the BIG farms.... the guys who are trying to do the right thing - grow a chicken in 10 weeks as opposed to 5 and produce a product that is relatively safe for consumpiton... and they don't use anitbiotics... the free-range and organic farmer - b/c of faulty thinking the cost is elevated ... what's more important? our health or our pocket book? Maybe if people became more wanted a better product and actually purchased it the cost would come down.... the old supply and demand theory!

In reply to a comment from Heather

you say doctors are overprescribing..whats your point?? Does your statement change the fact chickens are being given antibiotics as a preventitive and destroying humanities natural immune system.. You should be better informed before you go off making a fool of yourself on the internet..

I'm glad Marketplace is making the public more aware about animal farming use of antibiotics, but at the same time, the conclusions are pretty flawed.

I work in healthcare, and antibiotic resistance is very common, especially if you include drugs from the 60s like Nalidixic acid, which is no longer used.

You'll find resistance anywhere, even if you check on your potted flowers. I'm sure you never feed the flowers antibiotics, but bacteria move and spread!

Humans spread bacteria to animals just as much as animals spread to humans.

How did you choose chicken? What about pork, beef, turkey, fish, duck, lamb, and goose just too mention a few?

Your show on superbugs was excellect. W5 shows have sometimes caught the attention of parliment, and resulted in correction of something. Perhaps you could do so on this topic.

I felt the organic farmers comments were honest interesting. He said, that it takes him 10 days to bring a chick to market without antibiotics, and that the use of antibiotics would reduce this to 5 days. I wonder if this is the crux of the whole issue. The industry spokesperson defended giving antibiotics to "sick animals" and said it is done "judiciously". Oprah Winfrey and CBC news channel have presented excellent shows about how animals are housed and raised in overcrowded conditions for slaughter. It is well known that animals grow faster and are healthier on antibiotics, so it makes commercial sense to use them. (I can send you references on this from peer reviewed agricultural journals if you like.) The problem is, that the increased profit is costing us by creating antibiotic resistance. I understand that sick animals are not permitted to be marketed for human consumption, but can be marketed for pet food. So, why not slaughter the sick animals for pet food. They are all slated for slaughter anyway, I am just saying why bother treating sick aniimals with antibiotics so they can be slaughted later? The other issue, is rather than arguing with food industry over how much antibiotics they use, perhaps we should be negotiating with them. If antibiotic usage were banned for poultry, then no one could produce chickens in 5 days. The net result would be that the farmer would/could charge more because it would take everyone 10 days to raise a chicken. Consumers would be left footing the bill for higher priced food, but we have a serious problem, and this is probably the best solution. The consumers are willing!!!!! We would need to ban imports from countries who do not regulate antibiotic.

Okay, maybe a complete ban might be a bit of an over-reaction, but humans need to go to see a physician and get a prescription in order to obtain an antibiotic. Do farmers need to get prescriptions from veterinarians in order to obtain antibiotics?

In reply to a comment from Tom

All great points Tom. I espically agree with you on how the farmer is always blamed. But I do have one thing to add, that is a very important part of this whole fiasco. Comsumers demand for cheap food, has forced farmers to try and grow food as cheap as possible. What is a farmer left to do?

Sad day for chickens. Sad day for the sick people.I will be looking into free range locally grown meat,and chicken. I purchased locally grain fed beef this year. Our household diet consists of Harvested Moose Bison, Fish. However who knows what was dumped when they built the Alaska Hwy.The rate of cancer is alarming. Never mind the flu. All in all less crap we put in our food the better. Smarten up Food inspection persons.

Is freezing the meat kill the superbug?would that help?I really like to know. Thank You

Let us each write to our MP and ask them to correct the agricultural regulations that are needed in Canada to protect our limited medical resources!

I agree with the comments re doctors over prescribing.
Also once he organic chicken reaches the store, what's ot say contamination doesn't happen there if it is not prepackaged at the organic site.
My hubby is one of those people who has resistance to about 10 antibiotics and has recurrent bladder infections and ESBL which has been treated. He is a man who did not take a lot of antibiotics over the years, he does not like chicken, so did this come from other meats? He was a big steak eater years ago. It would be interesting to do a follow up show with other meats as the topic.

Doctors over prescribing antibiotics doesn't create super bugs. The constant use in chickens is creating the super bugs that make the antibiotics ineffective when we need them.That's what I got from the show and thank you marketplace

You have confirmed what I have said all along, as a certified organic farmer I could not understand how you could buy a chick which has come from a egg of a hen that was feed antibiotics all its life, then at 1 day of age injected with more antibiotics and then certify that bird as organic if this organic farmer really cared about what he was doing he would have his own small hatchery by the way its a small investment for a operation like his. Thank you Market Place

Has it occurred to anyone here that this wouldn't be an issue if we just stopped eating animals?

I'm glad to be a vegetarian.

In reply to a comment from dara

I really shouldn't pick on just one commentor, as there are so many comments that use flawed or incomplete logic, but this one is particularly annoying.
It's actually very similar to the Market Place piece in that they present various opinions as fact, and intentionally invite the viewer to make the worst conclusions.

I have "stepped foot" on a factory farm which called itself "family owned and operated". Their whole product was contracted to a brand that supplied their chicks. Without the contract for every bird they raised they would not have been in business. Some "family owned" arrangement.

So that's 100% of their birds, right?

Further more when I asked this chicken farmer if they ate the birds we were looking at, she said "no, our chickens are over there", showing a small flock, sourced and fed differently.
But I thought you accounted for 100% of their birds in your first statements? So you need to choose here... is your first statements inaccurate or are you applauding the farmers for not stealing contracted birds?

The farmers don't eat what they sell to us.
Of course they don't, if they sold it, they don't have it anymore, so they can't eat it.

Yes I am picking apart your semantics and logic, but if you can't make your point effectively, then either you don't have a real point to make, or you aren't able to see that the Market Place piece on this was incomplete.

Yes, we should always be concerned about what we eat and its preparation from birth to your stove, but this Market Place piece appears to rely on hype and opinion, with some research, that sadly isn't complete. Then it preys on or prays for, take your pick, human weakness to jump to the worst conclusions. And where facts are inconvenient to the reporting, they are omitted.

In the interest of fairness and presented a complete report on chicken health and safety, why didn't Market Place invite representatives from the stores, the farmers, the various government agencies, to participate in the report, to participate in the analysis and to given equal time to present their conclusions and actions plans? Instead we get tabloid journalism, complete with abush interview requests, and ambush reactions to the results. I would suspect that there was some selective editing as well.

Again, Market Place is on one hand doing the right thing by saying we should be concerned about the origins and processing of all our food, but on the other hand, they are presenting it in an uneven and incomplete manner, hoping viewer fear will sensationalize the results.

We should all give thanks to CBC Marketplace for exposing this very real and alarming problem. Whether or not their "science" is flawed or incomplete does not diminish the fact that there looms a potential threat to Canadian's health. And, that modern farming methods of all commodities have a share in perpetuating the problem.
Our government(s) have been very busy at absolving themselves of the responsibilities in many areas of public concern, not the least of which is health and welfare. Between powerful lobbyists and budgetary cutbacks, it's a wonder we have any protection at all from ministries like Health Canada when they let the fox guard the henhouse.

I have a friend who suffers from bowel problems and she ended up moving to Europe because the food supply is so much better there. Her bowel problems have almost gone away. She says that the North American food supply is the root of a lot of our health problems. Quantity not Quality is the priority in North America.

This shouldn't be news to anyone. When will Canada start looking at food irradiation as a safe and effective way to protect us from food-borne infections - standard in the EU.

"While we've all heard that over-prescription of antibiotics to people is one cause of the resistance"

Way to read the article.

Thank you for keeping us informed.In a perfect world where everyone did their best and performed their duties in a responsible manner, there would be no need for you. However, in the world we've got where people are motivated only by the biggest and fastest buck possible with no thought at all given to the possible consequences of their actions, a show like Marketplace is not only necessary but crucial to our survival. Some say your investigation was biased. Of course it was since your responsibility is primarily to the consumer rather than to the food production corporations. I am glad you do not take that responsibility lightly (unlike the Smiley Dan guy you interviewed who basically told us "everything is all right, we're working on it"). I think you probably would have got the same response from Health Canada. Perhaps since your broadcast we will actually see some results from their work on the issues you've presented. We'd better, because until we do (to quote Sylvester) "from now on, birds are off my list".

I didn't hear anyone recommend what is the most obvious solution -- stop eating chickens --it's as simple as that. In fact, besides being better and safer for your own health, the cruelty involved in the transport and slaughter of chickens as well as the environmental pollution from chicken factory farms are two other good reasons to give up the chicken for good. I follow a vegan diet and have never felt better, and I know I won't be risking my health by eating or handling infected chicken body parts (or any other animals body parts for that matter.)Go Vegan!

To all those who can't get the viewer to work try this:
1. Click the "play" control in the lower left corner of the viewer.
2. Then click anywhere on the "screen" area of the viewer.
3. player starts.
4. Bob's your uncle!

Great report!

Any and every change in procedure that reduces this terrible scourge of multiple-drug-resistant (MDR) bacteria, will have huge payoffs for the health of Canadians.

So many people, through no fault of their own, are getting MDR infections caused by exposure to unsterile environments and instruments during surgery.

A good follow-up study would be to determine (through genetic tests) what proportion of MDR bacteria in hospitals originated from supermarket meat, and what proportion originated from individuals taking too short a course of antibiotics for illness.

In reply to a comment from Heather

You're retarded. People eat way more chicken and OTHER meats than are prescribed antibiotics. You are not a scientist. You are not an expert. Medication should be used IF an animal gets sick, NOT before.

In reply to a comment from Kris

You think antibiotics are the same as vaccines ? Go study before you post next time.

In reply to a comment from Heather

It is ridiculous to think that, just because organic chickens carry some of the superbugs, there is no reason then to buy them. The more we use antibiotics on animals (not just chickens) the more antibiotic resistance we are creating. And farmers are not just feeding antibiotics for illness but as a way of increasing weight and profit in an unnatural way. Do you think people weren't able to raise and eat chickens previous to antibiotics? Your thinking is flawed.
We must also remember that it is not just this issue that is a danger in our food. What about genetically modified foods? The farmers of this country have already paid a huge price for contamination of flax seed and lost their European market as a result. That's why, when 90% of Canadians want labelling of GMO's the government gave us the finger. The Canadian government is in bed with big business to the detriment of Canadian health. Write letters to your MP's, the Agriculture Minister and the P.M.

In reply to a comment from Slowphie

I can watch this episode without a problem. It may take longer to load if you have low bandwidth at your end, but it does play, and I am in Canada.

lets protest. do something about it.

Great piece very informative and eye opening. Could it be possiable to also go after the producers of the chicken food since they put antibiotics in the food. And what about beef doesn't that pose the same problem? And i would have never thought that eggs would be injected also. Are they the everyday eggs we eat or just the ones used for breeding chicks? Keep op the good work.

If none of the samples were free from antibiotic resistant bacteria, what are consumers to do? I have been buying organic food for my family, but it seems that I've been paying a lot of money without any real benefit!

Thank you for this show. I watched a Dr. Oz show last summer that expalined that the anti-biotic used for chickens is a low grade arcnic, so I looked for the Homone free,anti-biotic free and feed with meat free feed,found at superstore. I am disapointed to hear that this to has the bugs. I now that there is a vitamin/mineral for poulty and medication fee feed, heck there is even organic feed.sold at the feed stores, so why is it so hard to raise/farm good chicken. I have raised my own chickens without medications of any kind. I have watched FOOD INC, and The World According to Monsanto, let me tell you this two documentary are truly an eye opener. So back to the farmers market I will go, there I can find cheap organic poultry and support the comunity were I live. I will not support any store with the purchase of any meats or non organic produce.

The most shocking aspect of this issue is that Health Canada has not taken a lead in addressing it.

In reply to a comment from dara

Curious to know if it was a farm here in Ontario because regardless of whether they are connected to a brand or not, there would still be a market for their chicken. The Chicken Farmers of Canada and the Chicken Farmers of Ontario oversee the marketing process of chicken in Canada and Ontario, respectively, and if this farm is a licensed producer (ie. quota-holder) they are guaranteed a market for their chicken. Every Ontario producer is able to choose to which processor it sells their chickens, which hatchery they buy their chicks from and from which feed mill they buy their feed. It is very unfortunate you visited a farm where the farmer was not eating their own product. I have spent the past 18 years working in animal agriculture, along with running my own farm business. As is with everything in life, there is always a minority, and a farmer not willing to eat his/her own product definitely falls into the minority category. As an Ontario farmer I'm extremely proud of the products we produce and have zero concerns about serving our products at our own kitchen table. In our house we eat beef raised in our own backyard, eggs from a neighbouring egg producer and chicken from another neighbouring producer, who both, by the way, sell their product to major brands.

Ok, I feel so robbed. I only by antibiotic free chicken. That it is resitance to five antibiotics is very disturbing. When will this powerlessness end. I need a Revolution. Who is with me

Perhaps what would or should require further investigation, is the financial association between the poultry producing industry and the pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical companies must dispose of their expired or unwanted stocks in some manner; offering these no longer fit for direct human consumption antibiotics to the poultry producers for free or even paying the industry for inclusion in poultry food would circumvent disposal costs of these drugs. This would easily explain the wide assortment of antibiotic resistant bacteria found in the poultry products tested.It would also explain the resistance of the industry, association of producers and the government to offer any conclusive answers as to why there are so many different and amount of drugs used in the industry.
In short it would be interesting to know if our poultry industry is being used as a dumping grounds for antibiotics - saving the pharmaceutical companies countless millions.

In reply to a comment from herve

I agree with the French person. I cannot eat non organic Chicken it makes me sick to put it in my mouth knowing what is in it. I would rather pay more to have it fed correctly without drugs. I do not understand why we are so invested in using drugs and killing ourselves.

In reply to a comment from Heather

you really don't understand the problem with food safety, production, and preparation at all. I'm sorry to tell you this.

For over a decade the regulatory agency of the government has failed us. As a variety of issues have evolved, from GMO food to industrial production, this agency hasn't done much of anything to protect consumers but has done what it can to protect corperations. This is fundamentally flawed on all levels.

There are many levels where contamination is problem. Nothing has really been done to address this. There is little blame to placed on doctors when basically our entire food system is at risk on fundamental levels at a period of time when food issues are a crisis that objectively Canada has not been subject too at large.

The main thing this episode failed to distinguish, or establish, is that the chickens all come from a breeder which is contaminated. It doesn't matter that "free from" biotics made by Lowblaws doesn't inject antibiotics to their chickens, or that organic chickens don't inject them. The entire supply is contaminated from the base level.

It is sad that for over a decade the agency responsible for food safety has failed to do much about this problem. Government has failed its constituency constantly (e.g. BPA and this issue) but there is little talk about it, so on that part I applaud Marketplace for bringing this to a greater portion of the public.

At the same time it remains to be determined how much will come from this. If you don't write, and push, government to do something about these very serious issues, then nothing will be done. The chicken farmer industry is only the tip of a melting iceberg if you actually look into it.

As a farmer, let me just say that the solution is simple. Raise animals in conditions that are not conducive to illness and there will be a resultant drop in the need to medicate. It's not rocket science.

Please Inform me if Chicken has Superbugs and the Organic Farmer purchased eggs that are not Organic how can the his chickens be classed Organic. Are Eggs a problem too? what about other meats. Would only people with a comprimised immune system need to be concerned.

In reply to a comment from Taryn

Glad I'm vegan too! But it just seems so hopeless.
People seem to LOVE eating LOTS of meat. I dont miss it at all.

In reply to a comment from Heather

Clearly you either didn't watch the show closely or you failed to understand it. People are given a choice when presented with antibiotic use. Educate yourself about whether you need the drugs you are prescribed; better still, practice preventative medicine (like organic farmers do!0

Animals are given a choice when it come to antibiotic use. People choose to give animals antibiotics; animals don't choose to take them. The reason that resistant superbugs are found in antibiotic-free chicken is that the problem--which originated in large-scale poultry farms--has worked its way to eggs from which hatchlings come.

The show was not flawed. Your interpretation is though.

It is interesting that this issue is just now catching the public eye--the practice dates back decades. What is truly shameful, however, is the conduct of the Canadian government when it comes to food safety regulations and their failure to protect the long term health of the nation based on ongoing monetary gain. This is the ugliest side of capitalism, where human life is implicitly less valuable than profits gained from the conveyor-belt production of meat. It is also shameful that it is left up to consumers and lobby groups to try to fight for the wholesomeness of the food we eat and feed to our children. It is the government who can and whose responsibility it is to put a stop to this by legislating against the use of antiobiotics in poutry, beef and pork. Canadians should be ashamed of their government who is failing in its primary responsibility--to protect its citizens in very basic ways.

The program did take a very slanted view of the issue. Antibiotic resistant bacteria from foods is only a fraction of the numbers transmitted between people.
Denmark has been running antibiotic free animal production for 12 years now. Although the prevalence of drug resistant bacteria is reduced they are still present. Therefore, to do something now is a bit like closing the stable door when the horse has bolted - bring on the bacteriophages

do the same tests after you cook the chicken properly and find how many 'superbugs' actually survive that exposure to heat and temperature...

after all people are going to consume properly cooked chicken and not raw chicken on which tests were done..

I would like to see the list of chicken products that did not contain the superbugs.


This is well presented research on the massive problems with our food supply.

I have been battling a bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics after having a surgical procedure. I have never experienced a bacteria infection that is antibiotic resistant before this recent one. Bacteria infections that cannot be stopped are a slow death. I think we have won the battle with this bacteria and have exhausted the available antibiotics in the process.

This is another reason why I am a vegetarian and do not have dairy. Our food supply is in crisis.

Good programme and well researched. It is clear that apparently healthy chickens are receiving daily antibiotics, without overt signs of infection, and in sub-therapeutic doses - hence the drug resistance. Better to cull any sick chickens; they have no place in the food chain.
It is noted that antibiotic-fed chickens are ready for market in 5 weeks, as opposed to the 10 weeks that it takes an "antibiotic free" bird to be ready for slaughter. This is likely the real reason that these birds are being fed antibiotics. Your study shows that the practice has no public health benefit and it should therefore be banned.

i am just wondering...everybody is concerned about humans getting superbugs from infected chickens...but why those superbugs are not killing chickens if they have surpassed the antibiotics viability???
the chickens are also surviving with superbugs inside them... isn't it??
or may be i am not familiar with something such as "chicken friendly superbugs" inside chicken which just infect humans...

Heather is dumb.

You people need to wake up. Yes perhaps Doctors do overprescribe, BUT that does not mean its ok to eat chicken or other products full of them. You wont take antibiotics as a preventative measure to reduce the chance of getting sick, so why should the food you eat also contain it? MRSA superbugs evolve for many reasons.

I get the feeling that some of you don't mind eating antibiotics or hormones?

If its so safe, why has it been banned in the EU since 2006

The only reason meat still contains these additives is 'bigger fatter faster cheaper' NO other reason for it... Greed is mass producing food that we simply don't need. I will ALWAYS choose free range meat free from additives and I can simply say no if a Doctor tries to give me antibiotics for trivial situations. I suggest you do the same.

In reply to a comment from Heather

Yes flawed to some degree,but remember that program was about chicken farming and a product produced for human consumption. The question I have for myself is do I want to eat that stuff thats loaded with antibiotic resistant bugs and make our problems worse??????

In reply to a comment from Greg

You need to watch the show more carefully. Both of the infections that were discussed could potentially be from food born organisms. E. coli which caused the elderly woman's Urinary infection and salmonella which causes the sepsis in the microbiologist could have both come from food borne organism. How could these infections have been hospital borne...they didn't mention any recent hospital admission about the two patients. How could a young healthy individual as the microbiologist get a salmonella infection which is resistant to many antibtiotics. Most likely they were community acquired infections. Again the point of the show is not that they acquired the infection but how is it that the organisms were resistant to so many antibiotics and the show looks at one possible reason which I think is much more likely that just health care professionals being the cause multi-drug resistance organisms. Maybe there is over prescribing but at least they have some knowledge of dosing of these antibiotics. I haven't heard of a animal farmer going thru a microbiology how do they know how much to give to their farm animals. They amounts prescribed by healthcare professions is nowhere near the amount of antibiotics given to animals.

I was disappointed in the apparent bias of your programme: it appeared that the aim was to paint the chicken producer as the only possible culprit behind the "contaminated" meat. There was no in-depth look at the various stages the meat goes through before it ends up in the kitchen, all beyond any control of the chicken producer. Why not investgate the processing plants, the supermarket meat handlers etc, all of which can be a major source of contamination? Even the proper handling in the kitchen was not explained.

When you cook your chicken, you kill the bacteria which carries the antibiotic resistance. That's great. The show counteracted this by proving that there is cross-contamination when you prepare chicken in the kitchen. The show failed to mention that no one goes around licking their pan handles, kitchen cloths, stove burners, etc. I don't think that humans are actually ingesting that much antibiotic resistant bacteria through chicken. We should be more concerned with super bacteria that we are producing through use of hand sanitizers and over-prescription of antibiotics from your doctors.

thank you.

In your Tip Sheet, you say, "To avoid cross-contamination, clean all prep areas and your hands thoroughly." But you don't say what cleaner to use. Should it be soap and warm water? Something with lye? Vinegar? What kills bacteria?

The industrialization of food where profits outweigh the health of humans is the real problem that has yet to truly reach mainstream consciousness. The propaganda spewed from powerful lobby groups from the meat and dairy industries would have you believe that you need their products to be healthy when nothing could be further from the truth. Stop and think for a moment on the following questions: why do humans consume another animal's milk? Does that not seem to be something that's completely unnatural? Why do humans love dogs and cats but eat cows, chickens, and pigs? Did you know that the meat and dairy industry is the single-most largest contributor to the problem of global warming?
If you want to avoid the risks of meat and dairy consumption, go vegan. You'll be healthier, have less to worry about, and help clean up what we're doing to our planet.

In reply to a comment from Kris

Antibiotics are not equivalent to vaccines. One cannot compare the two. One has to compare apples with apples. We do not give antibiotics to healthy people because it is not warranted and because it reduces their effectiveness. The same should apply to chickens.

In reply to a comment from Heather

You've brought up a good point that people do abuse the use of antibiotics as well, but it's just not within the scope of the show. Rather than calling it flawed, it more appropriate to see it as limited. It's goal was to show that chicken contains superbugs that we hear in news from time to time, and it has done so.

To say even more superbugs are caused because humans over-prescribed them isn't relevant. Now it doesn't mean that it's not important, but if the show was that comprehensive, it just wouldn't end since we can talk about antibiotics and superbugs in all organisms.

Though, your are valid in pointing out that an alternative should be discussed, and that probably should have been shown in the show.

I have a friend who suffers from bowel problems and she ended up moving to Europe because the food supply is so much better there. Her bowel problems have almost gone away. She says that the North American food supply is the root of a lot of our health problems. Quantity not Quality is the priority in North America.

You should be clear that Ceftiofur is not an antibiotic used in humans. It is only licensed for animal use as per the canadian drug product databse. It is certianly not used in pregnant women or children. Please try to ensure your research is complete and accurate.

In your programme, you showed organic chicken from Rowe's farms. I do not see this product in your test results. Is this the organic chicken you were referring to, or is it PC free from...?

In reply to a comment from dara

The reason why so many medications are used on factory farms is because of the conditions the animals or poultry are raised under. Thousands of birds under one roof with no fresh air, sunshine or space to move around would never survive long enough to make it to slaughter without drugs in their food and water. Beaks are nipped off to prevent hens from eating each other as they don't have enough room to get away from one another. They can not live like a normal chicken would under these conditions.
Pork is no better. Factory farmed pigs spend their short lives on steel slats above their own waste. Piglets are seperated from mothers at 3 weeks of age and the mothers are rebred again and again. No straw, no sunshine and no clean air. No wonder todays bacon is soft and slimy. Drugs keep them alive until they reach market size. Cattle have it better until they hit the feedlots. They too are crowded in pens of hundreds and forced to stand in their own waste until they reach the desired weight. To make more profit quicker they may be given growth implants, beta agonists, ionophones and dewormers (Western Producer January 27, 2011, Growth Hormones have downside if not managed correctly).
Factory dairies operate in the same manner. Cows are fed large amounts of grain to make them give more milk. The grain gives them ulcers and destroys their livers. They too are kept on concrete usually in a building with no chance at eating green grass or standing in the sun. The concrete cripples their feet so they are given drugs. They used to live into their teens but now their lifespan is about three lactations. So much for progress and its treatment of food animals.

I know one thing...I won't be buying or eating chicken again!

In reply to a comment from Heather

"If the farmers didn't use antibiotics at all then the chickens would be sick and who knows what that would do us to eat sick chickens"

Heather, the only reason farmers use this absurd amount of antibiotics is because of their greed, as well as the consumers. Chicken prices are still cheap because the farmers pack the chickens into very tight quarters. THIS is what makes them at such high risk for disease (not to mention slaughter practices). If people ate less meat and demanded good farming practices, antibiotics would not be needed because the farmers could raise their chickens in healthy, not disgusting, conditions.

In reply to a comment from herve

bogus website....can't be viewed

Health Canada?
Their lies about the Wife safety code 6, asbestos, cigarettes, vaccination, anti biotics in chicken.
Is there any responsible Minister who finally will step down?

In reply to a comment from dara

You are so right. The hutterites grow potatoes for the public but grow a seperate plot for their own use free of all the sprays used. I would imagine every other product is treated the same.

In reply to a comment from Heather

Another reason we need a change at Health Canada.
In my opinion Health Canada should have a name change to Healthless Canada as they are not doing what they are supposed to do,PROTECT our HEALTH.The same is happening with electromagnetic fields .They are allowing cell tower after cell tower to be built which are spewing radiation into our atmosphere and they have no solid proof that it is safe.If we complain about health effects from EMF they tell us it has to be caused by some thing else.Good independent scientists are warning of the dangers of microwaving our atmosphere yet HC turns a blind eye.Pity ,only in Canada

Another reason we need a change at Health Canada.
In my opinion Health Canada should have a name change to Healthless Canada as they are not doing what they are supposed to do,PROTECT our HEALTH.The same is happening with electromagnetic fields .They are allowing cell tower after cell tower to be built which are spewing radiation into our atmosphere and they have no solid proof that it is safe.If we complain about health effects from EMF they tell us it has to be caused by some thing else.Good independent scientists are warning of the dangers of microwaving our atmosphere yet HC turns a blind eye.Pity ,only in Canada

In reply to a comment from Tom

Tom, If you make a choice to be a chicken farmer and want to reap the rewards of that business, then you must be prepared to take on the duties and responsibilities that come with it. I'm sorry, but that's part of the job just like any other. Long winded explanations and making excuses is not the answer.

I think this is a massive joke. I can't walk into a store and buy as much antibiotic as I want. I have to go to a board certified physician who gives me a REGULATED QUANITITY of the stuff and that's all I get. Yet a FARMER with no medical training can administer as much antibiotic of any variety as he wants to the chicken I'm going to eat one day????????????????
What's wrong with this picture?

The fact that there is so much potential for transfer in the kitchen gives a pretty good indication of the transfers that occur in the meat cutting area of the supermarket. Maybe the organic and antibiotic free chicken was contaminated in the supermarket.

Our best defence against any opportunistic bacteria is the beneficial bacteria that we live in symbiosis with. That's a good argument for stopping the wild use of hand sanitizers, that leave us vulnerable to "super-bugs".

In reply to a comment from Steve Saunders

Did you watch it?

your show was very flawed. First you forgot to mention that doctors are also at fault for resistance to antibiotics for constantly overprescribing them when people don't need them. Amoxicillin which was at the top of a list you showed was already considered overprescribed back in the 90's. Doctors give antibiotics when people don't need them way too often. That is a big cause of resistance right there.
In the argument of chickens with super bugs and we should buy the antibiotic free chicken-you already proved that it contains the superbugs too!!!! Now why would I pay through the nose for something that claims to be antibiotic free but still has the superbugs? taking away the antibiotics is obviously not working and the superbugs are already there. Yes you made some good points but you also were incorrect in many ways as well. If the farmers didn't use antibiotics at all then the chickens would be sick and who knows what that would do us to eat sick chickens. Yes antibiotics are overused maybe in chickens but they are also overused in people too. The comments that people wouldn't get antibiotics when they don't need them is silly. I see it alot that people are on antibiotics when they don't even need them. maybe you should look at that too.

In reply to a comment from Pat

Just wanting to mention that yes people do take unnecessary antibiotics because Doctors overprescribe them all the time! haven't you ever heard any of that? there are articles and articles about doctors overprescribing antibiotics and other drugs. just google it. It isn't just chickens.

In reply to a comment from Chris

Since on/off doesn't matter, Chris, because the chickens have been ingesting antibiotics in their food.

As a researcher who came from France 7 years ago, I'm scared and amazed how Canadians have just now discovered the reality. In the 80's a movie called "l'Amerique interdite" was already reporting the misconduct of factory farms. Anyway, thanks to CBC, Canadians start to realize that food cannot be as cheap as it is. Growing chicken in a healthy environment takes twice the time as in a factory farm. It is logical that the price is double. As CBC mentioned in the show, everybody can make a difference. Buy organic products that are a little bit better for health, show to the big lobby by boycotting cheap products that you don't want to consume bad things (to use a polite term) and bother your MP to start a bill to ban those things. This is our responsibility. However, I have few comments on this show after downloading your Excel file with the results: CBC picked 4 types of bacteria and classified them as resistant or not. What was the concentration of antibiotics that was used in the tests compared to the concentration that is administered if you are sick with an infection?? Secondly, how can it be explained that the same samples, bought at the same store, sometimes have different results? What to conclude? Where are the antibiotics coming from? I suppose in the chicken food, but what was the concentration of antibiotics in each sample? As it was mentioned in the show, by cooking at the right temperature, we can kill bacteria, but what about the antibiotics concentration in the meat? Taking antibiotics when it’s not necessary select our own bacteria that we are carrying and make us also resistant. An idea would be to test antibiotics concentration in the meat and compare the different brands and see if organic or not makes a difference. As the farmer from Charlevoix was reporting that he doesn’t use antibiotics and hormones to grow chicken but theirs chickens also carried resistant bacteria, which means that egg were injected with antibiotics. Can we still name them organic? I assume that if chicks are growing for a longer time to be an adult chicken without antibiotics (compare the industrial way), the level of antibiotics should be almost none?
In Conclusion, Canada should stand up as Europe did 15years ago and say STOP using hormones, antibiotics and drugs for livestock. Our health worth it!! Importations should also be controlled as in Europe to ensure that food reach a standard that is acceptable to be healthy without carcinogen product, antibiotics and hormone.

I would love to be able to watch this episode online...if only that feature were working.

That was a great piece; however, you have only hit the tip of the Iceburg. The other problem with antibiotics is they stay in the food and once ingested they cause all kinds of collateral damage with our gut flora especially our kids who have under developed gut flora. We now have a generation of children who are suffering all kinds of bowel disorders and the numbers are increasing particularly in Ontario. The problem with our food supply is quantity in the priority not quality. This is a real travisty of our food supply.

In reply to a comment from Pat

Pat, the Chicken Farmers of Canada are not a lobby group. They are a supply management system. Just like Dairy, Eggs and Turkey.

In confined animal feeding operations the prophylactic use of antibiotics is common. They are used to increase feed conversion rates and prevent outbreaks in crowded conditions.

In reply to a comment from Stephen Smith

That is a HUGE issue too. Thanks for bringing it up.

Lots of shady conclusions but some of the more blatant ones are inferred in the interview with the physician form Surrey. None of the infections he describes treating in his clinic are due to foodborne bacteria...and therefore the impact of food-production practices and contamination of food with antibiotic-resistant bacteria on his practice is much less than he and CBC Marketplace would have us believe. These people have community or hospital-aquired infections...look to antibiotic use in the human community and hospital environemnt if you want to reduce antibitoic resistance in this type of infection.

In reply to a comment from Kathi Dunphy

Kathi, than goodness for organic farmers like yourself or I too would have given up meat consumption. Hopefully people are starting to wake up the the health risks of not just factory meats, but factory fruits and veggies too. It really amazes me that people don't seem to question that by the time we are in our mid 30s, too many of us have chronic disease of one kind or another.
I too used to believe that Health Canada is there to protect us and ensure our consumables are safe. Now I just wonder how they've gotten away with being in bed with Big Pharma and Big Agra for so long.

In reply to a comment from Kris

C'mon Kris... Do you know any healthy person who takes antibiotics every day just so that they don't catch a bug?
The thing about coking is also non sense. Watch the show and see about cross contamination.
Do yourself a favor and learn about vaccines.You won't sound so foolish next time you compare vaccines and antibiotics

In reply to a comment from Stephen Smith

Humans need to follow the instructions, yes, but it's not us, as in humans, creating the bugs in these quantities. Volume of exposure is the key - it's the massive amount of animals we consume that are exposed to the antibiotics. Eat locally, know your supplier and get out of the grocery stores, people.

We are beef cattle farmers. What we have noticed over the years is increasing resistance to antibiotics used to treat sick calves and mature cattle. We do not routinely medicate our animals. We use antibiotics to treat sick animals. We think the blame needs to fall on both sides of the fence. Some large scale farm operations use antibiotics as preventative medicine. We do not agree with this, but the scale of the operations necessitate this practice for profitability. However, there is misuse of antibiotics by the human population as well. This has to be factored in. Another comment posted has mentioned this.

In reply to a comment from Steve Saunders

Great point, but if we get sick with the anti-biotic resistant bug, we are the ones that regardless of semantics this is a huge concern.
Great job, Erica. Please follow this up regularly, my family and I are depending on you.

Thanks for your timely and informative show on the use of antibiotics in the poultry industry. Although I was very aware of the use of antibiotics, I did not realize the extent of its use. Switching to Superstore's Free From brand poultry products when it was introduced provided me with a little reassurance that I was doing something good for my family. You can imagine my surprise and dismay to find that this brand of poultry is not as clean as I had assumed. What a sad commentary on poultry farming in Canada. Once again I ponder just what Health Canada does for Canadians.

Oh, and I forgot to say Thank you guys at Market Place for keeping us informed. Great job!!!

Thank you for presenting this information and raising the concern over overuse of antibiotics.
However, I am disappointed with the tone of the report.
The basic permiss protrayed in the report is that it is the farmer who is to blame for all the problems.
Do most people know how a chicken gets from the egg to the plate? I doubt it. Would anyone like to raise a chicken for the plate? I doubt that as well.
First you have an egg. Then the egg hatches into a chick in the hatchery (very few people hatch their own chicks, even your report mentioned the "organic" grower got his chicks from the hatchery), then the chicks grow using feed from a feed mill (prepackaged and pre manufactured chick starter, and so on. Where the feed ingredients come from and their condition who knows),then the grown chickens are transported to the slaughter plant, slaughtering is done, the whole chicken is divided into its parts and then it is packaged and put on the store shelf to sit there for how long till the consumer takes it home.
How much time and how many "hands" and various contact points are there in this chain? Any of these contact points may be a source of contanmination with bacteria. Please remember a few years back when a Maple Leaf plant in Ontario was shutdown due to listeria. Your program showed how easily contamination can be spread even by a "clean freak".
In the program there is no mention of these possible sources of contantination it is only the farmer's fault.
I agree if antibiotics are used for no reason this should be stopped.
However, I believe most farmers try follow Ag Canada/agricultural research guidelines and recommendations (from scientific studies and unversity researchers) in order to make their farms more efficient, profitable and thus sustainable.
Yes I used the word profitable. I know that is a bad word for a farmer to make a profit but if the farmer is not profitable he will soon be out of business and then where will the food come from?
Assuming the farmer is following approved and accepted Ag Canada recommendations and guidelines and is adding things to the feed as recommended is it the farmer who is to blame or is it the recommendations of the government regulators and or the researchers and so on.
Yes we need to review our food production methods and make changes as needed but lets start with the people who make the production recommendations as opposed to attacking the farmer who is trying to implement the recommendations and make a living.
For example the BSE crisis with cattle was linked back to the use of beef processiing byproducts fed back to cattle. What idiotic high priced researcher came up with the idea of feeding beef processing byproducts back to the cattle and the government regulator who approved such an idea? Here again it was the farmer who was blamed and took the financial losses not the idiotic researcher who came up with the idea, the government regulators who approved or the feed mills who mixed it in the feed rations.
I think your report should have investigated further to first confirm the overuse of anitbiotics in chicken feed, and then confirm on whose recommendation these compounds are being added. Was it the farmer who insisted on using it or was it the feed company who added it with exception, or government regulators, or researchers who recommended the practise?
Please try to get the whole story as opposed to singling out the farmer only.

To all those stuck on the intro i.e. humans becoming antibiotic resistant, to quote gratias_et_veritas: ''So, when those antibiotic resistant bugs from poultry are consumed by humans, those bugs can interact with the bacteria present in the human gastrointestinal tract. Then through a process called "DNA recombination", the bugs in our human system can exchange genes with bugs from poultry and become modified to carry the antibiotic resistant genes, which in turn renders the humans antibiotic resistant.'' SO stop nit-picking and stick with the real issue which is that the food we eat is severely tampered with to the detriment of our health.

My question is though, if they are fed so much and so many antibiotics do we not, by extention, consume those as well when eating antibiotic injected chickens, only further adding to the problem?

Nearly a third of the samples didn't have antibiotic resistant bacteria yet there was no investigation as to why. Some brand names were mentioned but processing plants numbers would have been more relevant. The processing plant numbers are on the package. Why not post them here on the site?

Congratulations to Marketplace for covering this issue. It was disturbing to see the problems with hormone-free birds but reassuring that M. Charlevoix was genuinely concerned (unlike the conventional lobby) about the problem. We do wonder about the role of the the slaughter houses as the regulations that are now required have put small abattoirs out of business at an alarming rate. In Ontario an organic producer can no longer find a local house that will segregate their birds from conventionally raised (and antibiotic fed) or guarantee that the bird you get back is the one you sent in. These regulations in the name of safety were installed to protect us from the very problems the industry created and play into the hands of the centralised producers, some of them the biggest offenders that you revealed. It's amazing what we'll allow if we are made fearful enough. Clearly the fear of safety has led to a less safe system but one that benefits the large producers that caused these problems in the first place. If Ontario wants to reduce health care costs, support local options that meet appropriate standards and make sure that inspectors treat ALL abattoirs even handedly. Less illness, more safe options. Everyone wins but the big guys who are risking our health.

So, when factory farm owners (and I won't disgrace farmers by referring to these people as "farmers") get sick, or their families get sick, do they connect the dots. Do they actually eat the food they produce themselves?
Health Canada slashed meat inspectors back in the Mulrony years, and the Liberals did not repair that damage.
Its time consumers stopped looking for cheap meat and stop eating factory produced meat.

There is usually some resistance inherent in bacteria. It is not really super bugs. They have always been resistant to some drugs because the way they were built. If you do not say which organism is resistant to what drug, it means nothing to me. They probably have always been resistant to some of the drugs which are not made to kill them in the first place. There is a list of antibiotics to test against each specific organism. There are aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, gram negative and positive, with totally different cell wall, and require different group of antibiotics to be used against them.. We are not getting a very good picture of what was actually tested. We once collected chicken parts from 5 stores, and they grew nothing.. so we were convinced they were soaked in some type of bleach product.. no idea what, or passed through an electronic device that destroys bacteria.. This story is lacking in information. I would like to hear more with specifics. i am not happy with what is called a study these days.. Usually incomplete, and superficial, with little real factual information. They always leave me wondering what the rest of the story is... the most important parts are missing.

In reply to a comment from Sean

I have "stepped foot" on a factory farm which called itself "family owned and operated". Their whole product was contracted to a brand that supplied their chicks. Without the contract for every bird they raised they would not have been in business. Some "family owned" arrangement. Further more when I asked this chicken farmer if they ate the birds we were looking at, she said "no, our chickens are over there", showing a small flock, sourced and fed differently.

The farmers don't eat what they sell to us.

I am very appreciative to your broadcastings. Your recent airing of superbug found on chicken is excellent and I thank you for it. I wasn't surprised of the vague, useless and somewhat dishonest remarks of Mike Dunke but I was very disturbed about Health Canada not giving you an interview. I begin to question what does my own government doing by not participating in this important health issue. I am ashamed of Health Canada behavior. As for your job Erica, you did a fabulous work researching this superbug issue. Thank you.

Interesting program Erica. We use chicken manure and barn shavings to accelerate the heat in making compost and then dig into our veggie beds - are we creating more problems with anti-biotics, in soil, veggies and ground water?? Maybe veggies should be tested too.

My family and I have raised broiler chicken on our farm for 28 years. We too are consumers. Cook your chicken well, or any meat for that matter, and all this fear mongering will not apply to you. Cleanliness is key, even when preparing your veggies. I was nibbling on chicken wings during the show, terrific.

Somewhere in the story there seems to be a reporter standing near company headquarters with a cellphone supposedly talking to the company who refuses the request for an interview. The is just plain stupid and so yesterday.

Just say the company refused to comment. Simple, easy, and give the same information.

Why couldn't CBC follow up the cases with Health Minister or Health Canada in-behalf of Citizen. It sorry to see Market place concluding the matter by stating that Health Canada refused to interview or come on Camera. Thank you Marketplace and CBC teams. But request you to push more and exposed all the guys who makes money from this diseases.

I agree our meat growers need to stop or drastically reduce using antibiotics as well as hormones. This documentary deserves kudos for noting that. However, I think the Marketplace investigation was not complete. There could be other reasons why bacteria has formed on the chicken samples Marketplace purchased. Why blame it entirely on the antibiotic use? Many honest and ethical meat growers who do not use antibiotics are going to suffer from this documentary. Marketplace should have at least mentioned that other factors could be involved, as the grower in Quebec suggested about eggs injected with antibiotics. What about the meat being contaminated with bacteria in the packaging plants? Also, did I misunderstand the Marketplace report? Wasn't it stated only 2/3 of the chicken samples purchased were infested with bacteria? Does that mean some of the chicken samples were bacteria-free? If so -- PLEASE tell us which brands those are!!!!!

Reading these comments makes one realize how easy it is to hide your head in the sand and hope someone (the trusty government or big business) to keep you safe. Wake up people and take responsibility for your health and that of your children by learning the facts from this information and demanding the government take this significant health risk seriously, before one of your loved ones gets a bad infection and nothing will help!

It's like a crossroad , we don't put up a stop sign until to many people die. Wake up and start finding out how and who is growing your food. Don't wait till one day when you are sick and then its to late. Then we put up the stop sign.

Just curious whether any Kosher chickens were tested? I read the spreadsheet but could not find any? Kosher / Hillel meats tend to be raised / slaughtered differently, so can anyone enlighten me on this subject?

I am really going to make an effort to seek out locally farmed chicken that is raised without the use of antibiotics. Free run chicken that have the opportunity to go outside would be ideal to consume. We need to move away from mass production and factory farming methods. We also need to consume less meat which is a healthier way to eat and better for the environment. Look around at how many people are overweight. Gluttony and overconsumption will be our downfall!

Why no one checked the antibiotics effect on kosher chicken. Kosher chickens are handled properly and all the blood is taken out as quickly as possible. Therefore, bacteria and other dirt is being released from the chickens' body. And of course if you cook it properly you have nothing to worry about.

So CBC please do the research for a kosher chicken too.

This is a highly biased study. First of all many of these bacteria live in our bodies in minute amounts already. Also there is no indication of the amount of bacteria found on each sample. The human body can deal with minute amounts of bacteria, otherwise we would always be sick. As for the organic chicken, there was no indication where the animals were slaughtered. If they were slaughtered in a facility that handles regular chickens, it's quite possible they were contaminated with antibiotic resistant bacterium from equipment during processing. There is bacteria, both harmful and beneficial, all around us. The best defense for staying healthy is to cook all foods thoroughly, and wash diligently before, during, and after food handling.

It is not only chicken, but also pork and beef that contain antibiotic resistant bacteria. As long as we continue to raise our food in a "factory farm" setting, this will continue to be a problem. You need to see the documentary "Fresh". It speaks about the issue of antibiotics and inappropriate livestock practices and what some farmers are doing about it. Keep up the good work. It will be interesting to see if the chicken producers make any changes in the coming months.

In reply to a comment from skook

Except when dealing with food supply animals, who are administered antibiotics as PREVENTIVE medicine. Which is why people are being exposed to low, constant doses, and why bug strains are becoming resistant.

In reply to a comment from Kris

Please educate yourself about immunizations verses antibiotics. The flu shot is a dead virus... meaning you can not get the flu from it. It simply triggers your immune system to remember the virus strand and build antibodies (memory fighter cells) to it. Then, if you come in contact with the virus your body has already built immunity to it and you won't get ill. The flu vaccine is important not only for protecting oneself from the flu but also for protecting other more vulnerable populations (immuno-compromised populations, elderly and children) who have weaker immune systems and have difficulty fighting the annual influenza vaccine.

It was shocking to see the organic chicken resistant to some of the antibiotics. However, more shocking to me was the organic chicken farmer wasn't purchasing organic eggs for his chicks. That would be the first place to start to make sure your chickens were truly organic. Non?

Happened to catch this show tonight, and wow. Am I ever glad I'm vegan! When watching the segment where the girls are preparing the chicken with the special gel to see where traces are left behind, all I can think about is: If you have to put that much work into ensuring you're "safely preparing" food and can't touch anything after you've touched it, it is really something you should be PUTTING INSIDE YOUR BODY? Yes, I'll definitely be sticking to a healthy, non-animal-based diet forever!

I've been concerned about this type of so called 'Farming' for quite awhile. We live right beside two of these 'farms' After watching this show tonight, I have written to Health Canada as well as to our MP Ed Fast. If we want any change to come we must fight for it. For now there won't be any chicken on our table til I know this dangerous use of antibiotics will be stopped. And to think it's all for greed. Produce a batch in 5 weeks instead of 10 weeks....SHAME!!!

If antibiotic use were stopped, chickens would take twice as long to grow, then people would be complaining about chicken being twice as expensive to buy.

Thank you so much for the information. I would like to know if the organic beef and the organic grass fed beef and all the organic chickens have being fed antibiotics. and how can I find out.

We, as consumers, are responsible for the predicament we are in with respect to the security and integrity of the food chain. We have demanded lower and lower prices and corporations have responded in part. Corporate greed and consumer demand creates a no holds barred free for all on farms that has resulted in little quality control and extremely suspect animal husbandry practices.

The arrogance of big box supermarkets and their contempt for the consumer can be found in the attitude of Loblaws. I wonder where Galen Weston, the heir to the multi billion dollar Loblaws empire, was on that particular day?

Loblaws, in particular, has always had a problem with quality in my opinion. Vegetables may be cheap at Loblaws but within several days of sitting in your refrigerator they are going bad...why?..because big supermarket buyers can get truckloads of produce at a fraction of the cost if the produce is about to rot. The solution...get it to market fast and presto...huge profits. This same tactic applies to meat. Just look at the number of times Loblaws stores were shut down for rodent and cockroach infestation in Alberta.

So, the solution to the problem is the responsibility of the consumer. I refuse to buy meat at a big box supermarket. I buy from farmers and ranchers and that way I get to meet the family. No profits to a faceless arrogant corporation whose CEO does cutesy commercials, my money is putting the farmers and ranchers kids through university. I also shop at farmers markets and get that same excellent quality and face to face satisfaction. You would be surprised what you can get at a farmers market and its a great experience for the whole family...try it...your body will thank you

We, as consumers, are responsible for the predicament we are in with respect to the security and integrity of the food chain. We have demanded lower and lower prices and corporations have responded in part. Corporate greed and consumer demand creates a no holds barred free for all on farms that has resulted in little quality control and extremely suspect animal husbandry practices.

The arrogance of big box supermarkets and their contempt for the consumer can be found in the attitude of Loblaws. I wonder where Galen Weston, the heir to the multi billion dollar Loblaws empire, was on that particular day?

Loblaws, in particular, has always had a problem with quality in my opinion. Vegetables may be cheap at Loblaws but within several days of sitting in your refrigerator they are going bad...why?..because big supermarket buyers can get truckloads of produce at a fraction of the cost if the produce is about to rot. The solution...get it to market fast and presto...huge profits. This same tactic applies to meat. Just look at the number of times Loblaws stores were shut down for rodent and cockroach infestation in Alberta.

So, the solution to the problem is the responsibility of the consumer. I refuse to buy meat at a big box supermarket. I buy from farmers and ranchers and that way I get to meet the family. No profits to a faceless arrogant corporation whose CEO does cutesy commercials, my money is putting the farmers and ranchers kids through university. I also shop at farmers markets and get that same excellent quality and face to face satisfaction. You would be surprised what you can get at a farmers market and its a great experience for the whole family...try it...your body will thank you

If anyone thinks the way that the majority of poultry/pork/beef is raised in North America is pretty, just read" The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter" by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. Horrific, filthy, inhumane conditions augmented by growth hormones and antibiotics? You bet. And people who have said here most of the animals in Canada are raised on small family farms, well yes. But, just as in America, the majority of producers are bound by strict rules on how they must operate -- or be cut off by the big companies they supply to. How many people commenting here have watched the documentary "Food Incorporated"? People defending current food supply practices in Canada don't have a leg to stand on.

Thank you Marketplace for your comprehensive, scientifically valid and desperately-needed investigative report. I think testing 100 packages of chicken is more than sufficient!!

This is disturbing - if "Free From" and organic products are antibiotic resistant, what do we do to avoid risk? It would be nice if the results spreadsheet were more intelligible to the lay person.

In reply to a comment from L. G. Anderson

we should write our m.p. or form a ralley and go see what health Canada can do for worked in Egypt.there should be better REGULATIONS

In reply to a comment from Steve Saunders

While you are arguing about semantics, you are busy missing the point! Why don't you comment on what really matters: the ugly road from"big agra" to our kitchen tables!

In reply to a comment from gratias_et_veritas

I might be wrong but I believe high heat destroys DNA. Last I checked chicken meat is cooked well before being consumed, by me anyway. Even if it doesn't destroy DNA, it will shear up some of it. Yes it can recombine with our gastrointestinal microflora but you would need the proper sequence in the proper order hapenning through random chance. Anyway, just a thought...

Great show that has made our family very concerned as we eat a lot of chicken.Two thirds of the samples tested were contaminated and a third were I presume clear of infection,could you publish a list of what brands were o.k.

Ever wonder why we have such an obesity problem? The food we eat is full of not only unnecessary antibiotics but growth hormones which are ingested when we eat the food, esp. meat and fish. Antibiotics have a place, to be given when one is sick with a bacterial infection. The manufacturers of antibiotics and growth hormones are making a fortune from the overuse of them in the food production industry.

Wow, I guess we should all stop going out of the house, to the hospital, to clinics, the gym, etc. Superbugs are everywhere and you will not die from them unless you are severely immunocompromised. And if you are immunocompromised, you are more likely to die from someone with the flu coughing on you than eating fully cooked chicken. Cooking all your meat and vegetables properly ensures all bacteria, whether superbug or not, are killed.
On one hand the media scares us with stories of how much bacteria there is in food, and on the other hand they scare us with how farmers are overusing medication. What are we supposed to do- not eat and starve to death?
I once thought shows like the Marketplace serves to inform the public. This episode is just an example of how depressing the media has become.
Btw, farmers/visitors to the farm can carry superbugs on them and transfer them to the chicken. Bugs replicate really fast in ideal conditions. Ever thought of that? Humans aren't sterile, you know... a proper study would not just focus on one point (overuse of antibiotics on chicken in this case) but study everything. What a waste of my time watching this...

Not surprising Big Pharma is recklessly promoting the over use of antibiotics and probably other drugs in our food supply. They have been doing the same to people for at least 60 years. There are too many people and animals using too many drugs for too long. It is criminal. We all need to demand better for the health of all Canadians today and tomorrow.
Thank You

Does anyone know if freezing the meat and unthawing it before cooking it (in a deep freezer) would kill the superbugs?

I was completely mortified when I watched this. I am someone who is allergic to alot of antibiotics and I also suffer from what my Doctor calls IBM. I know that by looking at the list of drugs given I am allergic to half of the list. Scary right? Well not as scary as what has been happening to me for the last year! I have been experiencing longer then usual bouts with my bowls what used to be once or twice a month and only lasting 1 or 2 days. Has turned into once a month lasting any where from 3 to 8 days of severe bouts. When the last few happened I have noticed I get high fever accompanied by unbareable pain,loss of breath where I acually feel myself black-out and similar allergic reactions I normally have to drugs I am allergic to! And thinking back during some of my bouts I did consume chicken! I would really like to know more about this problem, because I truly believe my problems are linked to these antibiotics.

When we raised cattle we gave antibiotics when they got sick not in case they might. Same with chickens. Today animals are raised in what is called factory farms with large numbers of animals confined to a small area which increases chance of illness thus the need to feed antibiotics. I don't really want my food raised where they are in massive manure. There is nothing like a pasture and green grassand sunshine. You wonder what there is an increase in E.coli etc. They also add hormones to the feed to increase growth. It is time to look at what is being done to our food period. We have more sugar and sodium added to food than in the US and Europe and food dyes and preservative and on it goes.

I'm completely confused. Why would they expect to find no bugs on the organic chicken? Resistant strains are evolving because of widespread overuse of antibiotics. They're falsely translating this to mean that the antibiotics are creating the bacteria, and therefore, the birds without antibiotics should have no bacteria. Wow. This show is usually done well, but this episode is just causing mass confusion by spreading bad information. Shame on the chicken farmers for not standing up for basic science instead of looking like deer in the headlights. And shame on the supermarkets for not putting Marketplace in their place! Do some better research!

Is pork safer than chicken?

Great show, one thing I was wondering, if freezing the chicken makes any difference. I'm also assuming the same goes for turkey?

In reply to a comment from L. G. Anderson

I agree, there seems to be a complete lack of oversight by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Regulations only require a vet to observe the slaughter of one animal per day (I'm not sure if this applies to chicken, but it does to beef and horse). The CFIA doesn't even know how many inspectors it has. If your meat was slaughtered and butchered behind a glass wall at the supermarket, would you eat it? I don't know, but they would definite be more diligent about the animal welfare. I support the work of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and especially Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals. Both websites are useful for more information.

I am sick and tire to listening this nonsense. We do not have right people on right place who could take care about this complete mess that is going on Canadian farms and farming industries. Canadian governement should look at European countries which have stronger restrictians regarding antibiotics used on farms and at least follow their procedures that is much better than we have in here. Then we would not have to spend million of dollars on OHIP to prevent the sickness on Canadians. Sofar North America is far behind other countries as of healthy food.

I'm a vegetarian and this is the main reason I don't eat meat because of all the chemicals and anti-biotics that are injected in our meat. Our food is just not safe anymore. I refuse to put any of that in my body anymore. I think it's a much healthier, safer choice.

Another great inflamatory report using anecdotal evidence! Good job! I really like that you didn't speak with Dr. Brian Evans. I mean, why would you? He's only the Chief Food Safety Officer and Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada. Oh, and not speaking to anyone from the W.H.O. was a wise move, too, as they disagree with all the "evidence" you presented.
What I really liked, though, was how you show up at Health Canada and the Loblaws head office for an ambush interview and act shocked when no one rushes down to step in your trap. That's great reporting.

Keep up the good work!

Try dealing with the super bugs that you can get will you are in the hospital like MRSA and VRE.
Pretty much on the last antibiotic for this. These super bugs are out there and they are going to get worse.

In reply to a comment from Kris

Kris, I'm not sure what your comment here is. Are you against the flu vaccine? Comparing antibiotics to a vaccination is comparing apples to oranges. They are completely different things. The Flu cannot become resitant to the vaccine, that's not how it works. Otherwise, I agree with your comments. Always assume food coming into the house carries contamination and handle it accordingly. Wash hands, use a simple sanitizer, cook properly and cool in the refrigerator. These lessons have been known for years.

No one was talking about vaccines. And the reason the chicken industry gives antibiotics to their poultry is that, given the condtions the chickens are raised in, they will lose money if they don't, because so many will die!

After watching this worthy news show I honestly feel like I need to stop eating chicken, which is unfortunate because I love chicken but I love being healthy more. I would love to hear any alternatives to this dilemma, so I am not harming my family as well.


I am very scared for those of us that cannot afford to be safe.....Ontario Works but could be hazardous

Vaccines are NOT antibiotics. There is no similarities between the two. Antibiotics are rarely given to prevent disease...exceptions would be those in close contact with communicable diseases.

Great show! Just wondering if skin on/off maters or is less prone to being infected with bugs.

Good job Erica.

Judging by some of the comments on the show Canadians are in denial about the seriousness of the antibiotic resistance.

Shame on the chicken lobby group and SOME of the chicken farmers. Clean up your act. Really would you take unnecessary antibiotics. I doubt it.

In reply to a comment from Bruce Lee

growth hormones are banned in canada why don;t you check with u o alberta

People take the flu shot every year even if they aren't sick. Same as giving chickens anti biotics, to prevent illness and disease.

And it should be up to the consumer to handle it and cook it properly to prevent contamination. Other wise it would be like condemning gun manufactures for all murders by gun shot.

People need to take responsibility for their own actions, after all it is their health at risk.

In reply to a comment from gratias_et_veritas

For a biochemist, your comments are misleading and lacking in actual fact. There is no use of hormones in poultry production in Canada. The average broiler farm in Ontario is family-owned and operated NOT corporate-owned, and the vast majority of farmers are extremely concerned about the health and welfare of their birds. Birds that are raised in conditions that don't provide a healthy or humane environment are not profitable. My guess is you have never stepped foot on what you call a "factory farm" nor do you understand the feed regulations in place that govern poultry feed production.

A more accurate statement for your first line would be "Canadians are more healthy and live longer"

Come on people, stop picking on semantics. When the bugs become resistant, the people who carry these bugs inadvertently become resistant, so it is not inappropriate to say Canadians are resistant to antibiotics. I am a real life biochemist and not bothered by semantics like this, so it is time to move on and get the real point out of this whole episode! The truth is that chickens grown in factory farms under crowded, filthy and highly unnatural conditions (20 hour days, continuous feeding) are given growth hormones, which make them highly susceptible to various diseases due to heightened inflammatory responses. To circumvent this issue, they are given a concoction of antibiotics, which make their bugs become resistant, and when we consume chicken with those resistant bugs, the bugs in the human GI tract also become resistant (through gene exchange/DNA recombination events)and thus we become resistant as well. You all should be glad CBC is trying to open your eyes to these hideous crimes against humanity by money hungry factory farmers who consistently mislead the public! Watch Food Inc and Future of Food if you want to know more about these issues.

What are the "superbugs" resistant to? Not every antibiotic works on every "bug". There are hundreds of antibiotics available that all have different strengths and weaknesses.

Also, if these were bought at the supermarket, what's to say the bacteria didn't end up on the chicken after it was slaughtered?

Its time to ban hormones, antibiotics and other by-products in the meat supply. Even if it means less profits then so be it. Otherwise, do you want to end up in the hospital which will cost our health care even more.

This statement starts badly! It is not Canadians that are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, but bacteria. It might be of interest that antibiotics have been given to animals for various non-therapeutic reasons more than 50 years, so it is not surprising that they carry resistant bugs.

In reply to a comment from Steve Saunders

Funny how you should tell CBC they don't know their science. Looks like you can use a science lesson as well. Yes, strictly speaking, it is the bugs that become antibiotic resistant. So, when those antibiotic resistant bugs from poultry are consumed by humans, those bugs can interact with the bacteria present in the human gastrointestinal tract. Then through a process called "DNA recombination", the bugs in our human system can exchange genes with bugs from poultry and become modified to carry the antibiotic resistant genes, which in turn renders the humans antibiotic resistant.

In reply to a comment from chadmacd

Surely you mean factory farmed...I raise clean free range organic chickens for eggs and meat that never see an antibiotic or have a sick day. The problems come from drugged birds in unnatural environments in concentrated numbers.

Seriously your going 2 present findings from 100 chicken breast, which is last time I checked possible from only 50 chickens, that although bought across canada, could be from anywheres, and present them as accurate results, put of the how many millions of chicken that are grown in canada, geez, nothing like making things look like how you want them to appear, oh and I bet you didn't cook them either, because last time I checked you cook your chicken before you eat it,

Thank you Marketplace. You can be sure I will be watching. I called our federal gov't. a few years back after a breast cancer diagnosis to speak with someone about what is in our chicken and what is in their feed.... nobody and I mean nobody I spoke with could give me a definitive answer. I am afraid for the younger generations and now our food sources are manipulated. When one starts to research this it becomes mind boggling!

thank you for all the educational programing that you have provided recently. We need to know more about what our food has been through before it arrives at the supermarket. THANK YOU

we are so pleased you are doing this story,i have thought about this over time wondering what is really making us sick,now just makes me sit and take notice and it's scarie thank you for all the hard you do to protect us the public

So glad you're doing this story.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Since reading Jonathan Safran Foer's book "Eating Animals", I've become vegetarian since January 1 this year!

Oh come on Marketplace. Get it right.

Its not Canadians that are getting more resistant to antibiotics. Its the pathogenic bacteria that are becoming more resistant. That's why antibiotics are becoming less effective.

If you get the basic science right then you'd have more credibility! Otherwise your just tabloid journalism.

Hey CBC, the video doesn't work.

Mine wouldn't start1 :C

What about the simple fact that people (humans) DO NOT carry out their anti-biotic prescriptions properly?

For example: You're prescribed to take an anti-biotic for ten days. You feel better after five so you stop even though your Doc has repeated over and over again to take the anti-biotic medication for the full ten days.

You have just allowed the infection to become resistant. And that's by far the biggest reason anti-biotics are less and less effective.

I hope you have included that in your report.

Stephen Smith

I can't get the video to work. Maybe it's something on the CBC's end? Just an FYI :) Thanks!

great work we use to have a broiler farm untill the goverment took it all over was wondering why that happened

farmed fish, farmed beef now farmed chicken what is next!

I find it most 'distressing' that HC has not done better inspections and monitoring our food. I am very happy you have brought this information to Canadians but I am also extremely disappointed that HC allows such food additives (and there are many) without regarding the consequences to our health over time. Makes you wonder why the health facilities of such an affluent country of Canada is so crammed with very sick people?

An answer to the problem is phage biocontrol or phage therapy. The two websites provide information.


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