Livestock Antibiotics Linked to Human Resistance?


The following article is from the Wall Street Journal:

By Bill Tomson

WASHINGTON—Federal officials are doing a poor job monitoring how antibiotics are used by livestock producers, making it impossible to properly examine the development of bacterial resistance to the drugs and the impact on Americans, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

“Without detailed use data and representative resistance data, agencies cannot examine trends and understand the relationship between use and resistance,” the GAO concluded in a report requested by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D., N.Y.).

The Food and Drug Administration collects data on how much antibiotics are used on livestock, but doesn’t monitor which kinds of animals get different kinds of antibiotics, the GAO said in a 77-page report released this week.

Livestock grown in the U.S. consumed about 29 million pounds of antibiotics in 2009 according to the latest data available from the FDA. About 74{e7e4ba4d9a3c939171d79cae1e3a0df1d41e5a91c3c4158fbb92284b490bc9d3} of those drugs were fed to the animals. A much smaller amount was administered through water and even less was injected directly into the animals.

And data collected by the Agriculture Department, which monitors antibiotic resistant bacteria from cattle, swine, chicken and turkeys, fails to provide a comprehensive picture of the situation nationwide.

“This study reveals how unprepared we are to deal with the growing threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria and the American public should be outraged,” said Ms. Slaughter. “We have had two massive meat recalls just in the last month showing salmonella strains resistant to antibiotics.”

A Cargill Inc. plant in Springdale, Ark., recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey on Aug. 3 after it was linked to an antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella that caused more than a hundred illnesses and one death. The Minneapolis company announced a second recall of 185,000 pounds of ground turkey from the same plant on Sept. 11 after the exact same strain of salmonella was found by inspectors. No illnesses have been linked to the second recall.

When antibiotics are dispersed to livestock in massive doses through animal feed for either therapeutic reasons or growth promotion, bacteria in the guts of those animals can become resistant, according to a recent USDA report that compiled studies conducted at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and elsewhere. Humans are then at risk of consuming that mutated bacteria, often by eating contaminated meat directly.

The National Pork Producers Council, in reaction to the GAO report, said Wednesday, “Not only is there no scientific study linking antibiotic use in food animals to antibiotic resistance in humans, as the U.S. pork industry has continually pointed out, but there isn’t even adequate data to conduct a study.”

Source:  Wall Street Journal

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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