Monday, 23 July

Armenia: Salmonella, Antibiotics and Other Microorganisms Found in Domestic Chicken


Earlier this month, Hetq sent nine imported frozen chicken samples for laboratory testing. Only four passed inspection.

Hetq readers asked that we also test domestic chicken brands in terms of health safety.

Of the seven brands we sent to a laboratory on December 12, only three were found safe. The other four contained salmonella bacteria, higher than acceptable MAFAM (Mesophilic aerobic and facultative anaerobic microorganisms) levels, and antibiotics, whose sale is restricted in Armenia and that can only be used by a physician’s prescription.

Yerevan’s Standard Dialog LLC Laboratory did the testing. None of the chicken had passed its expiration date.

 

Sample N1

Araks Poultry Plant – Grade A frozen broilers (no giblets), has a label indicating that it is produced and compliant with the national standards of Armenia.

Storage life: -18 Celsius, 12 months.

The chicken contained MAFAM levels exceeding norms by a factor of 1.6.

The meat also contained the antibiotic Levomycetin - 0,017 mg/kg (the permissible level is<0,01 mg/kg).

Thus, this frozen chicken does not comply with the prescribed norms and is unfit for human consumption.

 

Sample N2

Araks Poultry Plant – Frozen broiler necks and breasts’ labeling says it’s Grade A again, it passed veterinary checks on October 9, 2017. Storage life: 3-6 months, depending on storage temperature. It also has national standard compliance label.

This sample passed inspection, since it corresponds to norms and is fit for consumption

 

Sample N3

Shirar LLC-  Frozen Ashtarak chicken’s storage life in -18 Celsius is 12 months.

It’s got an EAC (Eurasian Conformity) label, necessary for the sale of goods in the EAEU area.

Despite damaged packaging, this sample also passed inspection, since it corresponds to norms and is fit for consumption.

Sample N4

Agrotekinvest LLC – Lusakert frozen chicken livers’ label has also got EAC and GOST number on it.

However, the testing revealed that the chicken contained MAFAM levels exceeding norms by a factor of 32.           

Thus, this sample does not comply with the prescribed norms and is unfit for human consumption.

 

 

Sample N5

Noubarashen Poultry Factory – Erebouni fresh broiler thighs’ label again says to be corresponding to GOST norms and it also bears EAC mark.

It says to have passed the veterinary check on the same day of testing, December 12. Storage life is 3-6 days. There is also the Quality Mark of the National Trust (2015-2016) on the label.

The testing revealed traces of salmonella bacteria, and antibiotic Levomycetin - 0,0847 mg/kg

Thus, this sample does not comply with the prescribed norms and is unfit for human consumption.

 

 

Sample N6

Spitak Poultry Plant – Frozen chicken breasts have storage life of 4 days to 14 months, depending on storage temperature.

This sample passed inspection, since it corresponds to norms and is fit for consumption.

 

Sample N7

Erebouni – Grade A frozen chicken meat was purchased from Yerevan City supermarket, without packaging, so it had no labeling.

The chicken contained MAFAM levels exceeding norms by a factor of 14.

This sample does not comply with the prescribed norms and is unfit for human consumption.

 

So...

Unacceptable MAFAM levels in the samples N1, N4 and N7 result from non-compliance with hygienic norms or thermal regimes during production, or non-compliance with transportation, storage rules and hygienic norms at the sales points after production.

Karen Darbinyan, who heads the Standard Dialog Laboratory, told Hetq that the salmonella found in the fifth sample isn’t the result of incorrect storage and the likelihood is low that chicken had been infected at the point of sale. More often, this is due to a violation of the production process norms.

According to the official data, 324 cases of sickness due to the salmonella group bacteria were registered from the beginning to the end of October of 2017.

According to the data published by the Armenia’s Ministry of Health in the booklet "Epidemic Situation on Infectious Diseases, Influenza and Poisoning", 1079 cases of intestinal infectious diseases have been registered in Armenia this year, 333 of which in Yerevan and 746 - in the provinces.

Antibiotics found in the samples N1 and N5 are due to antibiotics used for treating the chicken

"They used antibiotics for treating the birds and did not wait for it to get out of the organism," explains  Darbinyan. He says, "Maybe the bird was about to collapse, and they didn’t want to lose, so they slaughtered it sick and sold."

The frequent use of antibiotics forms stable microorganisms against the antibiotics in the body, resulting in the need of stronger antibiotics for treatment of such diseases in the future.

Although after Hetq's examination of imported frozen chicken, the State Food Safety Service conducted its own study of imported chicken and reported some violations (salmonella, listeria), they did not mention anything about antibiotics, and this fact was ignored by the Ministry of Health, too.

 

Readers can access the laboratory findings here


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