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Is Antibiotic Resistance Bacteria Being Overused in Our Food?

Antibiotic resistance and chicken

Is it possible that antibiotic resistance bacteria being overused in our food supply? It is indeed possible and may be a bigger threat than most thought. If you have not gotten foodborne illness in the last two years that is a good sign. If food is properly cooked at a temperature above the danger zone it is unlikely that bacteria will pose any sort of threat but it could still be transferred to utensils and locations where food is prepared. The microbes present have the potential to linger and make people sick when contact is made.

According to an article published by Pew Health many of the meats we consume tested positive for salmonella. That being said, not all strands of salmonella have the potential to make you sick or show symptoms. 7.5 Percent of young chicken carcasses tested positive for salmonella. That was last updated in 2011. The same articles shows that 44.6 percent of ground chicken tested positive but that was last updated in 1996 and is clearly in need of an update. The article also illustrates that 2012 had nearly twice as many outbreaks of foodborne illness compared to previous years.

This demonstrates that their was and is a need to protect public health. The large amount of antibiotics are not only harmful to humans but also to livestock. According to an article on Mother Jones the next global pandemic is likely to involve a superbug with antibiotic-resistance. Many of these regulations determine the overall outcome of products sold and used across the world. We all need to eat and many of us get our food from the same sources. This is not a problem that needs to continue, it is a problem that can be solved when a problem is found and that problem may very well be the overuse of antibiotic resistant bacteria used on food supplies.

antibiotic resistance in comic form

Executive director of the food safety center for Consumer Reports, Dr. Urvashi Rangan, has stated that “at the moment, the only way to protect yourself from becoming sick is to remain vigilant about safe handling and cooking.”

Now for the good news, the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service is now updating their standards. Specifically that means a few things. Salmonella contamination limits will be updated regularly and established when chickens enter slaughterhouses, outbreaks will be brought to the attention of the public immediately, any facility under investigation of not being able to produce safe food will be shut down and closed until necessary control measures are met, and unannounced salmonella testing will take place in chicken processing facilities.

In addition, the FDA has announced new antibiotic guidelines for agriculture. These guidelines are necessary because some farmers use such drugs not to cure animals when they are sick but in fact to help boost their growth. Until just recently the U.S. Department of Agriculture did not actually require germ-free conditions in the butchering process. Of the 2 million people every year that contract serious antibiotic-resistance infections, 23,000 die.

Public health and foodborne illness are important issues that need more attention than previous years. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is likely being overused by farmers due to the boost in grown it gives livestock. This is now seeming more harmful than beneficial and higher standards are necessary for our food supply if we are to remain healthy. In order to prevent a superbug with antibiotic-resistance action must be taken.


By Garrett Jutte


Pew Health

Health and Time

Mother Jones