November 23, 2015


Antibiotics use issue comes to fore, again



A study on the use of antibiotics in food animals has recommended that authorities encourage the use of vaccination and make immunisation cheaper for farmers to discourage the use of antibiotics.


The study, which was released recently by the Imperial College London, said that excessive use of antibiotics in animals is contributing as much as overuse in humans to the global antibiotic resistance crisis.


According to the study, whose lead researchers were from the Imperial College London, antibiotic-resistant bacteria can pass from animal to humans through meat-eating.


"If you eat a chicken that contains an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as E.coli--and the chicken is not cooked properly--the bacteria can lodge in your gut. There is then a risk of it escaping from your intestines, and perhaps traveling to your gallbladder or urinary tract, where it may potentially trigger an infection that doesn't respond to antibiotics," said the study's co-author Dr Luke Moore of Imperial College London.


The study said that in order to tackle this issue, authorities should encourage the use of vaccination, as this would prevent antibiotic use.


Consumer Report report


The Imperial College London came just after Consumer Reports released a special report on "America's Antibiotic Crisis" which found that "antibiotic-resistant bacteria are all too prevalent in our meat supply".


"Over the years, we've tested hundreds of packages of supermarket meat, poultry, and shrimp, and found multidrug-resistant bacteria in samples from every type of animal," said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, executive director of the Food Safety and Sustainability Center at Consumer Reports. 


Consumer Reports also said that over the past three years, it had tested four types of meat for bacterial contamination. "We found superbugs in all of them. And in most of our tests, we saw differences between meat raised conventionally and meat that was more sustainably produced, without antibiotics". Superbugs refer tomethicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and bacteria resistant to three or more types of antibiotics.


The North American Meat Institute (NAMI), in reaction to the Consumer Reports' "much-promoted 'report' on meat and antibiotic resistance", said last week, "As the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) has pointed out in response to Consumer Reports' previous tests of meat and poultry cited in this story, it is nearly impossible to draw conclusions on antibiotic resistance and its relationship to production methods because Consumer Reports does not provide any detailed data to support its assertions".


"It is disappointing that Consumer Reports continues to perpetuate myths about 'superbugs' on meat and poultry products," said Dr. Betsy Booren, NAMI vice president of scientific affairs. "Bacteria develop resistance in nature in response to a variety of threats. Just because bacteria are resistant to one or more antibiotics does not mean they are superbugs and this is a fact that has been affirmed by the US Food and Drug Administration. More meaningful information would indicate whether pathogenic bacteria are resistant to certain types of antibiotics, but Consumer Reports has never shared this information publicly".


NAMI: MRSA not foodborne


NAMI also claimed that Consumer Reports did not mention any specific antibiotic-resistant bacteria besides MRSA which, it said, "is not considered a foodborne pathogen".


"In its previous tests of meat and poultry products that form the basis for this report, the bacteria most often found such as Enterococcus and generic E. coli are commonly found in the environment and are not considered pathogenic bacteria", the NAMI statement said.


The US National Chicken Council also issued a statement reiterating what the Food and Drug Administration had stated that "it is inaccurate and alarmist to define bacteria resistant to one, or even a few, antibiotics as 'Superbugs' if these same bacteria are still treatable by other commonly used antibiotics".


The NCC also claimed that any chicken meat sold in the US "is free of antibiotics". "The USDA regulates withdrawal periods to ensure no meat bought in the store contains antibiotics or antibiotic residue from animals that may need medicine", it explained.


NCC: Antibiotics use only for treatment


Tom Super, NCC spokesman, said, The National Chicken Council believes medically important antibiotics should only be used on the farm to treat and prevent disease, and not be administered to promote growth".


Super also stressed that "any possible bacteria, antibiotic resistant or not, is killed by proper cooking".  


US senators Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins filed a bill in March seeking to combat the overuse of medically important antibiotics in animals, as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had said antibiotic resistance was one of the most pressing health threats facing the world.


Under the proposed Prevention of Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2015, the FDA would be required to withdraw its approval of medically important antibiotics used for disease prevention or control that are at high risk of abuse, unless the producer of the drug can demonstrate that its use in agriculture does not pose a risk to human health. --Rick Alberto

Video >

Follow Us