- According to the CDC, the most important source of antibiotic resistant organisms is in hospitals. Along with this, is the over prescribing of antibiotics to people by doctors.
- The use of antibiotics in animals is regulated - the administration of those drugs if limited to prevention and control of illness in the herd or flock, and that administration provides sufficient time so that there are no residues in the meat at the time of slaughter. The use of antibiotics for growth is not permitted.
- The classes of antibiotics used in animals are generally different than those used in people.
- Having antibiotic resistance does not necessarily mean an organism is a superbug - many organisms can have resistance to antibiotics and not cause illness, or in other cases, pathogens can have resistance to antibiotics that are not normally used to treat human illness.
- Many bacteria have naturally occurring antibiotic resistance, so to have raw meat or poultry with no antibiotic resistance microorganisms is impossible.
- If people properly handle and prepare / cook meat, they will eliminate all potential pathogens that may be present. Antibiotic resistance does not give organisms the ability to survive proper cooking or cleaning.
Now this is not to say that people can’t get ill from multi-antibiotic resistant pathogens. There has been the ongoing case of Foster Farms chicken in California that had been a source of severe illness. Some product was recalled – that was product that was cooked at a Costco store and then most likely mishandled leading to cross contamination. Foster Farms, the producer of the chicken, has what appears to be an on-going issue with consumers getting ill from the raw chicken parts that are purchased by consumers through retail stores. While USDA has worked with the facility to put in an action plan, it did not force the company to issue a recall.
Much of the debate is whether Salmonella should be considered an adulterant. To this point in time, it is not considered an adulterant provided the company has safe handling instructions labeled on the product, and the company is following standard accepted practices. But will consumers properly handle and cook poultry?
There is a push to make those multi-antibiotic resistant strains of Salmonella an adulterant, but this is a slippery slope. Not all multi-antibiotic strains are responsible for making people ill. In fact, the Salmonella strain in the Foster Farms case have antibiotic resistance to antibiotics that are rarely used to treat people for salmonellosis. So what can the science support? What is practical, considering that Salmonella has been associated with birds much longer than modern man has been around?