Pew Charitable Trusts today applauded Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Susan Collins (R-ME), for introducing the Antimicrobial Data Collection Act, which would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, to report more information on the annual sales of antibiotics used among industrial farm animals. The bipartisan bill would also give the agency a deadline to finalize policies proposed last year to eliminate the use of antibiotics for growth promotion purposes in meat production.More info
People tend to think of summer as a time reserved for rest and relaxation, but this has not been the case for many scientists this past season. In the last few months, there have been several new studies on antibiotics widely discussed by media, policymakers, and the public alike. With the flurry of activity, it can be difficult to keep abreast of the latest science and its implications for industrial farming and human health. Below is a quick and easy guide to help you get up-to-speed on the latest research.
Antibiotics in Uncured Meats Increase Risk of Foodborne Illness
This August, researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and University College Cork, Ireland, described their discovery that very low levels of antibiotic residues found on uncured meats, such as pepperoni, salami, and sausage, may actually increase the risk of foodborne illness. In fact, antibiotics slow fermentation, the process through which bad bacteria such as E. coli or Salmonella are destroyed. Scientists concluded that the use of antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria and allow the disease-causing bacteria to flourish. “The obvious solution is to eliminate the use of antibiotics as growth promoters and closely monitor the use of antibiotics in treating farm animal diseases,” said a researcher from the study.
When Good Bacteria Go Bad
This August, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, issued a study that found harmless bacteria in the soil can cause disease in humans once they’ve traded genes with other, more dangerous types of drug-resistant bacteria. The waste industrial farms produce contains considerable amounts of antibiotic residues, which likely contribute to the increase of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the soil. “If we want to curb this trend, a great place to start is with more prudent use of antibiotics,” said scientist Kevin Forsberg.
Link Discovered Between Antibiotic Use in Chicken Production and UTIs
In March, researchers published a report drawing a link between bacteria on chicken and antibiotic-resistant urinary tract infections (UTIs). They compared E. coli samples from animals in processing plants to the strain of E. coli that causes urinary tract infections and found chicken to be the source of the bacteria. This summer, the story gained major traction with the release of a related study by some of the same researchers who found that retail chickens had very high levels of antibiotic-resistant E. coli; about 85 percent of UTI infections came from this E. Coli strain.
MRSA Rarely Found in Pigs with No Antibiotics
Another recently published study from Germany concluded that methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) is rarely found in pigs that are raised without antibiotics. Similarly, the farmers who live and work with these pigs were less likely to have the strain of MRSA commonly associated with livestock than farmers who worked with pigs who were regularly administered antibiotics. As one of the most notorious multidrug-resistant superbugs, MRSA is responsible for an estimated 19,000 deaths and 360,000 hospitalizations each year in the United States alone.
Organic Meat Contains Fewer Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs
In September, researchers at Stanford University concluded that organic food was not any richer in vitamins or nutrients than conventional foods. However, the study did find some health benefits: consumers eating meat and poultry raised without antibiotics are 33 percent less likely to contract antibiotic-resistant infections than those who eat products raised conventionally.
- Date added:
- Oct 11, 2012
"As a nation, we need to exercise greater care with our use of antibiotics, in both humans and animals, so that these medications remain effective in treating serious bacterial infections."More info
SuperChefs Against Superbugs, an initiative of the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, is a movement of chefs who want to stop the overuse of antibiotics in food animal production. On April 23, the following seven chefs visited Capitol Hill to explain why they serve meat and poultry raised without antibiotics.More info
It used to be easy to treat healthy children with common bacterial infections; a regimen of antibiotic pills could usually wipe out the disease. Today, patients might need to go home on intravenous antibiotics because oral therapies will no longer work. Antibiotic resistance is to blame.More info
A past bout of salmonella led Maine resident Danielle Wadsworth to travel to Washington, D.C. this week to argue for stronger regulations to curtail the use of antibiotics in livestock farming. She took part Wednesday in "Supermoms Against Superbugs," an initiative of the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming.More info
Dr. Cecilia Di Pentima is in Washington, D.C., for “Supermoms against Superbugs” to push for laws to curtail the use of antibiotics in livestock farming — one of many fronts in the battle to preserve the effectiveness of the medicines. Family physicians in the South, including Tennessee, have also been identified as inadvertent purveyors of drug-resistant bacteria by prescribing too many antibiotics.More info
Each year, tens of thousands of Americans die and hundreds of thousands are hospitalized because of bacterial infections resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic overuse on industrial farms is a big part of the problem. The largest U.S. meat and poultry producers feed antibiotics to healthy animals over much of their lives to make them grow faster and to compensate for the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in which they are bred and slaughtered.More info
On behalf of the undersigned organizations representing medical, public health, scientific, agricultural, environmental, animal protection, and other organizations, we urge you to include H.R. 820, the Delivering Antimicrobial Transparency in Animals (DATA) Act, as part of the final Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA). This legislation provides a reasonable, common-sense approach to better understanding antibiotic use in agriculture.More info
We have an amazing roster of more than fifty moms, dads, and other caregivers ready to take Washington by storm. Hailing from 25 states, each supermom and superdad has a unique story to tell about why we need to stop overusing antibiotics on industrial farms, including moms who almost lost children to antibiotic-resistant infections and pediatricians who fight superbugs every day.More info
"For decades, the meat industry has denied any problem with its reliance on routine, everyday antibiotic use for the nation's chickens, cows, and pigs. But it's a bit like a drunk denying an alcohol problem while leaning on a barstool for support. Antibiotic use on livestock farms has surged in recent years — from 20 million pounds annually in 2003 to nearly 30 million pounds in 2011."More info
Can’t make it to Washington for Supermoms Against Superbugs Advocacy Day? Don’t worry — there are still many ways you can get involved!More info