Many have the idea that chicken in our market are not safe to eat due to the injections given to help them grow bigger and faster.
Chicken & Growth Hormones
Chickens are in fact, no longer injected with growth hormones to make them grow faster. Injecting hormones was practiced back in 1970’s and was not permitted to use in livestock by the 1980’s. However, chickens nowadays do grow faster due to the genetic improvements and use of well formulated feeds. They also do receive vaccines that are injected to prevent sickness.
Chicken & Antibiotics
Generally speaking, chicken/ poultry meats sold in the markets are free from antibiotics. The use of antibiotics is regulated by the Feed Act 2009. They are only used therapeutically on chickens affected by specific diseases. Meaning, chickens are only given antibiotics if and when they are sick. In addition, treated chickens must undergo a withdrawal period to allow it to completely leave the animal's system before being slaughtered as food. However, a report by University Sains Malaysia stated that there were resistant bacteria (Camphylobacter spp.) found in live chickens at the Selangor wet market.
So, are the laws and regulation are being abided? Nevertheless, don't panic yet...
There is no clear link between antibiotic use in animals and resistant bacteria infections in humans. The risk to human health is likely to be small, since adequate cooking diminishes the residual bacteria in food.
What we can do to enjoy safer chicken and reduce chances of an infection is by good food safety practices-
- COOK : Cook food to a safe internal temperature. (≥74°C for meat & poultry)
- CLEAN : Practice good personal & hand hygiene. Clean work surfaces and utensils.
- CHILL : Keep the temperature of the refrigerator below 4°C and refrigerate foods within 2 hours of cooking.
- SEPARATE : Separate cooked food from raw food during preparation and storage.
Dietitian Ivy Cheah
- Phillips I, Casewell M, Cox T, De Groot B, Friis C, Jones R, Nightingale C, Preston R, Waddell J. (2003). Does the use of antibiotics in food animals pose a risk to human health? A critical review of published data. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2004 Jan; 53(1):28-52. DOI: 10.1093/jac/dkg483.
- Hassali M.A., Ho R.Y., Verma A.K., Hussain R., Sivaraman S. (2018). Antibiotic Use in Food Animals: Malaysia Overview. School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia. Penang. ISBN 978-967-13914-8-8
- Health Action International Asia Pacific (HAIAP), Third World Network Penang, Consumers' Association of Penang. Antibiotic Use and Antibiotics Resistance in Food Animals in Malaysia: A Threat to Human And Animal Health. 10 October 2013
- Food Safety: Antibiotic Resistance, Food, and Food Animals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Assessed from https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/challenges/antibiotic-resistance.html
- Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart. United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. Assess from: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/safetempchart