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Reported November 14, 2013

Animal Overdose—Drugging our Food

BALTIMORE, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Do you know what’s in the meat in your freezer?   Chances are there’s a good dose of drugs. Commercial farmers feed antibiotics to animals and its sparking new legislation and prompting a growing debate, is it creating a health problem in humans? 

The chickens on Steve Misera’s organic farm roam the pastures and peck away at feed that’s free of chemicals and antibiotics.

“You are what you eat and if I’m eating meat that’s been exposed to a lot of antibiotics, I did have concerns,” Steve Misera, organic farmer in Butler, Pennsylvania, told Ivanhoe.

The FDA reports 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are used on livestock. Consumers’ groups and lawmakers worry that overuse in animals creates “superbugs” that are spreading to people.

“What is that doing to me? More importantly, what is that doing to my family and my children,” Steve said.

One consumer advocacy group studied government data and found 69 percent of the pork chops and 81 percent of ground turkey sampled had antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  Dr. Amesh Adalja says that bacteria shouldn’t pose a threat to consumers—as long as it’s cooked safely.

“Obviously, there’s a risk if you’re eating raw or undercooked meat, just like there is for other non-antibiotic resistance things that we’ve always talked about, like salmonella, for example,” Amesh Adalja, MD, Board Certified Infectious Disease Physician, UPMC Center for Health Security, told Ivanhoe.

Dr. Adalja calls the rise in antibiotic resistance a health emergency, but says in the U.S. the problem is not primarily fueled by animals, but overuse in humans.

“The public begins to demand antibiotics for any cough, cold, or viral illness irrespective of the fact that antibiotics have no effect on viruses,” Dr. Adalja said.

Others like Steve Misera, still say it’s just as important to know what is and is not in your food.

“Try to find the source of the products that you are buying and know that person and ask them, ‘how are you raising your products?’” Steve said.

What happens down on the farm may affect what happens at your dinner table.

The Food and Drug Administration has asked commercial farms to voluntarily reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock.  Two pieces of federal legislation have been introduced this year that would ban the practice, but so far neither measure has come up for a vote.

For additional research on this article, click here.

Sign up for a free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs called First to Know by clicking here.

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Emily Farr at efarr@ivanhoe.com.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Amesh Adalja, MD
Board Certified Infectious Disease Physician
UPMC Center for Health Security
AAdalja@upmc.edu
724-822-2035

 

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