New study adds to concerns about animal-to-human resistance to antibiotics
A surprising new estimate suggests that around 80% of all US antibiotics are given to animals raised for human consumption.
Jill Adams, LA Times:
Yet another study has found stuff you don’t want to eat in stuff that you eat.
On April 15, scientists reported that the meat bought at supermarkets is often contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics used to fight human disease.
The study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, found staph on 47% of 136 samples of beef, chicken, pork and turkey from 26 grocery stores in five U.S. cities. Of those bacteria, 96% were resistant to at least one type of antibiotic and more than half were resistant to at least three.
The advice for consumers remains unchanged: Cook meat thoroughly — heat kills bacteria — and wash items such as cutting boards and knives that come into contact with meat.
The larger concern is what all this means for public health.
Lance Price at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Flagstaff, Ariz., and coauthors concluded that the resistant staph on meat was probably coming from the animals — and not, say, a worker’s unclean hands. This seems to point the finger at antibiotic use in agriculture.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) has authored the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, which calls for the phasing out of non-therapeutic use of medically important antibiotics in livestock.
From March, 2011:
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) reintroduced a bill this week aimed at limiting the use of certain classes of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
Slaughter is lobbying her colleagues to support H.R. 965, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, commonly referred to as PAMTA.
Slaughter, the only microbiologist serving in Congress, made clear that her bill would only apply to the subtherapeutic use of antibiotics.
“Make no mistake, this bill would in no way infringe upon the use of these drugs to treat a sick animal. It simply proscribes their non-therapeutic use,” said Slaughter. “If an animal is sick, then by all means we should make them well, but the routine use of antibiotics on healthy animals in order to promote growth is dangerous. It would be like a mother giving their son or daughter antibiotics every morning in their Cheerios. We’re wasting our precious antibiotics.”