According to a new investigation, more than half of Lidl’s chicken meat products contain multi-resistant bacteria – germs that can potentially make consumers ill and don’t respond well to treatment. These are the results of a microbiological test conducted by an independent, accredited laboratory. Let me present to you a groundbreaking investigation we led with other animal protection organisations across the world, revealing how Lidl, by allowing chickens in its supply chain to suffer, is also putting our health at risk.

Are shoppers bringing dangerous bacteria home?

Heads or tails? Heads, what you’re eating is safe for consumption. Tails, you’re bringing life threatening superbugs home in your grocery bag. Would you flip a coin and risk your health?

This is basically what Lidl is asking its customers to do, according to the lab’s findings.

ONE IN TWO fresh chicken products sold in Lidl GB contain antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’, according to our new investigation.

The lab uncovered, among other things:

Do you want to know more about our results? Check out our report.

‘Superbugs’, the silent pandemic supermarkets don’t want you to know about

Antimicrobrial resistance is a massive deal, but we barely talk about it. It occurs when bacteria mutate or acquire genes that allow them to survive exposure to antibiotics – these are called ‘superbugs.’ Over time, bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics can spread, making treatments either more difficult… or entirely ineffective. This also elevates risks for surgery, C-sections, and chemotherapy.

Timothy Walsh, Professor of Medical Microbiology and Antibiotic Resistance at the University of Oxford, a leading expert in the field, saw our results and is as worried about antibiotic resistance as we are.

“The presence of multi-resistant bacteria in meat is a worrying trend and represents a serious public health concern”, he says. “People can get ill from processing and consuming contaminated meat, and the use of human antibiotics in animal production can have a profound long-term effect on the effectiveness of antibiotics to treat human infections.” 

Experts estimate that 1.27 million people worldwide died in 2019 from drug-resistant infections with a further 4.95 million dying of antibiotic-resistant associated infections. In the UK, around 58 000 people had an antibiotic-resistant infection in 2022 and 2,200 die from it every year

The scale of the issue led the World Health Organisation to classify antimicrobial resistance as one of the top 10 global public health threats.

Poor animal welfare is one of the biggest drivers of antibiotic resistance and a threat to public health

According to experts like Professor Walsh, one of the major causes of resistant bacteria in chicken meat is the use of fast-growing Frankenchickens.

These poor chickens have been selectively bred to produce a lot of meat in the shortest possible time. They have very weak immune systems which makes them prone to contracting numerous infections and diseases.

We recently exposed how 74% of the basic label chickens sold in Lidl suffer from hock burns. This horrible skin disease is caused by chemical burns that chickens get from prolonged contact with waste-covered litter. Their legs often struggle to cope with their weight which leads them to spend a lot of time lying on the floor.

Frankenchickens are so vulnerable they need to be fed tons of antibiotics just to be kept alive.

Professor Walsh comments: “Poor animal welfare is one of the major catalysts for the use of antibiotics and subsequent drivers of antibiotic resistance. Intensively farmed, fast-growing chicken breeds commonly face issues of immunosuppression largely induced by stress. Such conditions make the birds susceptible to infections so they necessitate significantly higher antibiotic use.”

Lidl must stop selling Frankenchickens

Data from the Dutch broiler industry shows that slower-growing chickens require 9 times fewer antibiotics. This switch could significantly reduce the use of antibiotics and the risk of pathogens, in addition to reducing the suffering of these innocent animals. 

We have asked retailers like Lidl to stop selling fast-growing chickens for years. These alarming new findings reveal that this is no longer just about animal welfare: we all pay the price for cheap meat. 

The reality is, and these results prove, that human and animal welfare go hand in hand. The horrible farming practices that chickens have to suffer have consequences on all of us.

Hundreds of companies have committed to the Better Chicken Commitment, which prohibits the sale of Frankenchickens, including M&S, Waitrose, KFC, Nando’s, all French major supermarkets. Lidl is already phasing out fast-growing chickens in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark. 

But Lidl refuses to address this problem in the UK. Sign the petition. Tell Lidl to stop selling Frankenchickens.