Antibiotics in animals and the risk of human infection; the NY Times explores.
Antibiotics have been used for years as a supplement to animals to help improve the yield of meat on farms. Apparently, this practice has gone on for years and has rarely been questioned.
Apparently, there are side effects to the indiscriminate use of antibiotics which apparently include more antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria which we as a species are affected by. The effect is that as more bugs become resistant to antibiotics, stronger and newer antibiotics are necessary to combat their infection.
We have addressed the usage of antibiotics in the human population as doctors were advised to council their patients as to when it is most appropriate to use them. Since newer evidence suggests that there is no real scientific benefit to yields of meat from farm animals by using antibiotics in feed, and the bad side of this practice has been antibiotic resistance, it is now time for the practice to be banned since it is indeed a future health hazard in the making.
Read the NY Times article here
Antibiotics in Animals Tied to Risk of Human Infection
A federal analysis of 30 antibiotics used in animal feed found that the majority of them were likely to be contributing to the growing problem of bacterial infections that are resistant to treatment in people, according to documents released Monday by a health advocacy group.
The analysis, conducted by the Food and Drug Administration and covering the years 2001 to 2010, was detailed in internal records that the nonprofit group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent litigation.
In the documents, some of which were reviewed by The New York Times, scientists from the F.D.A. studied 30 penicillin and tetracycline additives in animal feed. They found that 18 of them posed a high risk of exposing humans to antibiotic-resistant bacteria through food.
Resistant bacteria make it difficult and sometimes impossible to treat infections with ordinary antibiotics. The scientists did not have enough data to judge the other 12 drugs.
At least two million Americans fall sick every year and about 23,000 die from antibiotic-resistant infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. Representatives of the food industry largely blame hospitals and treatments given to people for the rise of deadly superbugs. But many scientists believe that indiscriminate use of antibiotics in animal feed is a major contributor.
Farmers and ranchers feed small amounts of the drugs to animals over their lifetimes to keep them healthy in crowded conditions, causing bacteria to develop a resistance passed on to people through the environment and eating meat from the animals.
In a statement, the F.D.A. said the drugs under review had been “older, approved penicillin and tetracycline products,” and that the agency had issued letters to their producers asking for additional safety data. It said those efforts had been part of a broader assessment of antibiotics, also called antimicrobials, given to animals raised for food, and that it has since made major policy changes to address them.
The F.D.A. has tried repeatedly to rein in the use of the drugs in animals. It adopted regulations in 1973 that required companies to submit studies showing that a drug’s use in animal feed did not promote resistance in people.