Eliminating antibiotics from food animals is unwise
Eliminating antibiotic drugs from food animal production may have
little positive effect on resistant bacteria that threaten human health,
according to the Institute of Food Technologists.
In fact, such actions abroad have resulted in more antibiotic use and more
resistant bacteria in some cases according to the international, nonprofit
scientific society and its latest report, Antimicrobial Resistance: Implications
for the Food System.
"Prior human exposure to antibiotics is the
greatest factor for acquiring an infection with antibiotic-resistant bacteria,"
says Michael Doyle, chairman of the IFT expert panel, microbiologist and food
"While preliminary evidence points toward - but does
not prove that - human health risks result from antibiotic use in food animals,
what is known is that once foodborne pathogens have acquired resistance through
whatever means there are clear human health impacts," he says.
Europe, the report notes, the elimination of antibiotics promoting animal growth
resulted in increased disease among animals and more therapeutic applications of
antibiotics on increasingly resistant bacteria. Further, this elimination of
certain antibiotics by the European Union has not been shown to have reduced the
prevalence of some antibiotic-resistant strains affecting human medicine. Quite
the opposite, resistance increased among some pathogens.
on the responsible use of antibiotics in US veterinary and human medicine
already exist. IFT urges government agencies and other key decision-makers to
move forward on identifying the best methods for prudent use even while causes
of antibiotic resistance are not completely understood. While this will be
complicated, IFT stresses that the solution will not be simple and that a single
approach is not possible.
For more information, see the Institute of Food
Technologists Export Reports.
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