According to Scientific American this week not only Cargill, but also our government has some responsibility for problems with food safety. In fact the government is being cited by some as having knowledge of the fact that antibiotic resistant Salmonella in poultry existed. It would seem that over use of antibiotics has led to the current crisis, and may be destined to be repeated if practices are not changed.
The well publicized turkey recall was one of the largest ever. In a self defeating cycle, the bacteria which is immune to common drugs has been on the rise on meat producing farms. In fact Scientific American goes on to say that the bulk of U.S. antibiotics are used in factory farming.
A proposal which suggests that “by going organic, poultry farms can cut the amount of antibiotic resistant bacteria in a single generation by nearly five times, according to a new study published online this week in Environmental Health Perspectives.”
“We were surprised to see that the differences were so significant across several different classes of antibiotics even in the very first flock that was produced after the transition to organic standards,” Amy Sapkota, of the University of Maryland School of Public Health, and co-author of the new study, said in a prepared statement. The team studied Enterococci bacteria, which are common in poultry and are also frequently found in hospitals and can become immune to antibiotic treatments, making them “a good model for studying the impact of changes in antibiotic use on farms,” Sapkota said. In humans, the bug can cause urinary tract infections, blood infection, inflammation of the heart and even meningitis. And when these bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, infections are harder—and sometimes impossible—to treat with available drugs. Farmers can’t expect to get rid of the bacteria altogether, but by cutting down on the birds’ exposure to antibiotics, the amount of bacteria that builds up resistance is not only possible, but also quick. The first generation of poultry that was raised organically at previously conventional farms had way less of the superbug breed of bacteria. Tests of the feed, water and poultry litter showed that on 10 newly organic farms, about 17 percent of the Enterococci bacteria was resistant to multiple classes of antibiotics, whereas on 10 farms that continued to raise their birds via conventional methods with prophylactic antibiotic use, some 84 percent of the bacteria had developed multi-drug resistance. “These findings show that, at least in the case of Enterococci, we begin to reverse resistance on farms even among the first group of animals that are grown without antibiotics,” Sapkota said. “It’s very encouraging.”
Thanks to Douglas R. Yearout DVM for pointing out this article for us.