Consumer Watchdog Wants to Save Us From Superbugs

superbugContaminated food products have been in the center of a series of scandals associated with ingredient providers and restaurants nationwide in the past years. Recently, Chipotle was accused of being associated with E. coli outbreaks in Washington and Oregon, but not too long ago, the same company was associated with other outbreaks in California.

But another issue that the public is seldom made aware of is the superbug crisis. According to Consumer Reports, the overuse of antibiotics has been the main cause of the development of what we now call superbugs. These superbugs are organisms that become resistant to antibiotics over time. The consumer watchdog group says that the increase in the use of the antibiotics has led to the rise of bacteria that is not affected by the drugs, increasing the risk of serious health consequences for individuals who are infected.

Some of the superbugs widely known currently include methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and bacteria resistant to three or more types of antibiotics. If new antibiotics are not developed, or other methods are not more widely used, bacteria will remain mostly indestructible. As a result, patients who are exposed to these superbugs will struggle to recover.

Every year, 2 million Americans are sickened and over 23,000 die because of superbugs. As antibiotics we have been relying on for decades become less effective, simple infections begin to kill people. To the director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this reality should be avoided at all costs.

According to Consumer Reports’ past investigations, meat and poultry industries are overusing antibiotics at a higher rate than any other field. In the US, about 80 percent of the antibiotics sold are given to animals used in food farms. They include chickens, cattle, hogs, and turkeys.

The Food and Drug Administration’s latest research into the subject shows that more than 32 million pounds of antibiotics were sold for use in food animals in the country in 2013 alone. That’s a 17 percent increase from four years prior to the research.

While several companies such as McDonald’s have pledged to avoid using the same antibiotics to put an end to the superbug phenomenon, many meat production companies are still not acting.

Drugs have been used in food animals for the past 70 years. In many cases, food producers give healthy animals low doses of antibiotics to keep them healthy. Over time, the use of the same antibiotics causes bacteria to become resistant. Most of the antibiotics given to animals are added to water or feed, the FDA reports.

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