This week at THE PACK HQ, we were alarmed to hear that a major meat supplier to Lidl, Asda and Iceland has been sourcing chickens from farms that use antibiotics deemed critical to human health by the World Health Organisation. The news broke after the Bureau of Investigative Journalism discovered that Polish meat company SuperDrob has been supplying birds dosed with fluoroquinolone antibiotics, often used to treat serious salmonella infections in humans. Sales of fluoroquinolones and colistin, a last-resort drug used to treat serious infections that haven’t responded to other medicines, have increased by more than 70% in Poland, Europe’s biggest producer of chicken meat.
Why Is This Making Us Whimper?
Well, routinely treating farmed animals with antibiotics can be a ‘lazy’ way to prevent them from getting sick while keeping them in overcrowded, low welfare conditions. Animal welfare concerns aside, research has shown that overuse of antibiotics can lead to potentially lethal bacteria developing antibiotic resistance. That means the drugs we use to treat minor and major human – and canine – infections may no longer work. Scarily, in 2019, antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as ‘superbugs’ caused an estimated 1.2 million deaths globally. Using antibiotics like fluoroquinolones on farmed animals is legal, but only under close veterinary supervision. When they’re used preventively on healthy animals, there’s a high risk that superbugs could develop that prevent these drugs working on humans and pets in the future. Testing in May confirmed these fears, discovering bacteria resistant to fluoroquinolones in waste collected from Polish chicken farms supplying SuperDrob. What’s more, back in 2020, food from SuperDrob meat plants and farms were the main source of a UK salmonella outbreak that infected more than 400 people, caused by bacteria resistant to fluoroquinolones.
But Why Is This Relevant To Dog Food?
Because ‘human food’ is increasingly ‘dog food’ too. As our furry friends become part of our families rather than just ‘pets’, many of us want to feed them so-called human-grade food rather than commercial pet food. That means those contaminated chickens could well end up in the dog bowl too. This is even more of a concern when we feed our dogs a raw food diet, a ‘premium’ trend that shows no sign of going away, despite reservations expressed by the veterinary community. According to the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, raw meat pet food can introduce bad bacteria like E. coli and salmonella, and even parasites, into our pets and into our homes. An FDA study has shown that raw pet food is more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria than other types of pet food. Worryingly, dogs infected with salmonella often appear happy and healthy, all the while shedding salmonella in their poop for up to a week after eating infected food – that is, spreading the bacteria to humans without us being aware.
It’s not just main meals either: new research in Veterinary Record investigated Salmonella presence in dried "natural" meat-based treats available in the UK. It used a small sample, but the results were quite alarming: 16% were Salmonella positive. Two of the strains of salmonella have been previously isolated from pig and chicken meat intended for pet food in Italy. One of these, S. Dublin, was isolated from bull pizzle stick treats (yep, those are what you think!) and can cause severe invasive illness in humans that can result in septicaemia, hospitalisation and death. An antimicrobial-resistant phenotype was identified in 39% of salmonella isolates, so these treats are also causing a potential public health risk in terms of antibacterial resistance.
Coming back around to our antibiotic-dosed chickens, scientists have warned that "the trend for feeding dogs raw food may be fuelling the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria". The raw foods analysed in the study contained beef, goose, duck, salmon, turkey, chicken, lamb, and vegetables and delivered a hefty dose of bacteria resistant to multiple types of antibiotics. Yikes! Add those dodgy SuperDrob birds to the mix and we realise that not only does raw meat risk making both our dogs and our human family sick, but it could indirectly cause a public health risk. Responding to the controversial news this week, Asda warned that customers should always “thoroughly cook frozen chicken products to reduce the risk of getting ill.”
Here at THE PACK, we’d rather not play with fire; why feed your dog chicken at all, when it comes with so many health risks? Our nutritionally complete No-Cluck Casserole delivers a flavour hit that beats bland chicken meat, without harming any birds in the process. Made with kale, papaya, sunflower seeds, pea protein and a wealth of other superfood plant-based ingredients, there’s no trace of dodgy drugs in our cans. After all, you don’t need to dose up plants with antibiotics to prevent them from getting sick! So why not swap superbugs for superfoods, and give THE PACK a try today?
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