Tag Archives: antibiotics

“When Food Kills” — we wonder why…

From Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:

“The deaths of 31 people in Europe from a little-known strain of E. coli have raised alarms worldwide, but we shouldn’t be surprised. Our food often betrays us.

Just a few days ago, a 2-year-old girl in Dryden, Va., died in a hospital after suffering bloody diarrhea linked to another strain of E. coli. Her brother was also hospitalized but survived.

Every year in the United States,325,000 people are hospitalized because of food-borne illnesses and 5,000 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s right: food kills one person every two hours. Continue reading

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Emergence of monster pathogens and the FDA’s attempt to limit food choices

From David E. Gumpert on the Complete Patient blog:

Image via The Complete Patient blog

“Here’s a prediction: the price of raw milk from reliable sources is going to be rising sharply over coming years. In fact, the prices of many nutrient-dense foods obtained from known safe farms are going to be heading sharply upward.

That’s because the dangers associated with conventional foods are rising nearly by the day. The latest danger documented by scientists in the United Kingdom is of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria being transmitted to people by cattle. Continue reading

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SURPRISE — FDA reveals factory farms use a shitload of sub-clinical antibiotics

From Tom Philpott, writing for Grist.org:

Animals in factory farms get daily doses of antibiotics, both to keep them alive in their stressful, unsanitary conditions and to make them grow faster. What’s the annual volume of antibiotic use on factory farms? The question is a critical one, because the practice has given rise to a novel strain of antibiotic-resistant staph (MRSA), known as ST398, that’s widely present in our vast hog and chicken factories.

Well, federal regulators have for years ignored the question and refused to release estimates of just how much antibiotics the livestock industry burns through. But that ended yesterday, when the FDA released its first-ever report on the topic. The answer: 29 million pounds in 2009. According to ace public-health reporter Maryn McKenna, that’s a shitload. (I’m paraphrasing her.) Continue reading

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Food politics lowers the quality of food

This excerpt is from a recent post on the “Trusted M.D.” blog titled “Raw milk, health authorities and the right to choose what we eat”. The subhead tells it all in a nutshell: “Because in Canada one can only buy pasteurized milk, those who want raw milk from grass-fed cows go to great lengths to get this food.”

Maximizing milk production the modern way? NOT at "Home on the Range" cowshare

“Well the dust is settling after the latest skirmish between Fraser Health and my cow share, Home on the Range Farm, which distributes raw milk to the owners of the cows that live in the city of Vancouver. This kind of arrangement is common for city-living horse owners who pay someone in the country to board and look after their horses. The owners can come out and ride their horses whenever they want. Continue reading

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Antibiotic abuse in pig feed breeds drug-resistant pathogens, part 2

I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that Nicholas D. Kristof is one of America’s most impressive writers on food and agricultural issues. Here’s an excerpt from part 2 of his investigation into connections between the use of subclinical doses of antibiotics in pig feed and the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans. This is from the N.Y. Times website and is titled “Pathogens in our pork“.

The factory farm approach to pig raising. Pictures from www.all-creatures.org

Pigs on Drugs -- the factory farm approach to pig raising. Pictures from http://www.all-creatures.org

“We don’t add antibiotics to baby food and Cocoa Puffs so that children get fewer ear infections. That’s because we understand that the overuse of antibiotics is already creating “superbugs” resistant to medication.

Yet we continue to allow agribusiness companies to add antibiotics to animal feed so that piglets stay healthy and don’t get ear infections. Seventy percent of all antibiotics in the United States go to healthy livestock, according to a careful study by the Union of Concerned Scientists — and that’s one reason we’re seeing the rise of pathogens that defy antibiotics.

These dangerous pathogens are now even in our food supply. Five out of 90 samples of retail pork in Louisiana tested positive for MRSA — an antibiotic-resistant staph infection — according to a peer-reviewed study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology last year. And a recent study of retail meats in the Washington, D.C., area found MRSA in one pork sample, out of 300, according to Jianghong Meng, the University of Maryland scholar who conducted the study. Continue reading

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