The FDA is set on fighting antibiotic resistance and superbugs, with the recently released guidelines going in effect in December 2016.
The new guidelines set was released in June this year. It specifically targets the use of antibiotics with livestock, a crucial step in diminishing the overwhelming role that extensive antibiotic use has played in creating superbugs.
Superbugs are a side-effect of antibiotic resistance. Super-resistant bacteria, no longer responding to the once powerful antibiotics are sending an estimated 2 million U.S. citizens in hospital settings yearly. Approximately 23,000 patients die annually from bacteria infections that cannot be treated with antibiotics any longer and for which there is no approved treatment.
Against this background, the FDA guidelines prohibit farmers to continue using antibiotics in livestock animals. Both antibiotics that promote growth or the production purposes of the establishment and medically approved antibiotics are targeted in the new FDA plan.
Since penicillin was discovered, the antibiotic industry has been ramping up. And for good reason. Antibiotics play a crucial role in treating a wide spectrum of infections, potentially deadly. With the increased use of antibiotics in farms nationwide, that is bound to change.
For decades, the increased use of antibiotics in these settings has ramped up artificial growth of livestock and production volumes, spiking revenues in return. However, it has also led to the immunization and mutation of dangerous bacteria. Doctor Steve Solomon, the former director of the Office of Antimicrobial Resistance of the CDC has stated during the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food and Nutrition Conference that antibiotic resistance is:
“a critical problem that we’ve been trying to solve for decades”.
Using antibiotics with livestock is firstly dangerous for the animals. Superbugs or antibiotic-resistant bacteria is spreading from the animals to humans rapidly. Vegetarians make no exceptions. The antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be transmitted through soil and water. Using manure coming from farms’ livestock animals as soil fertilizer is one source of transferring the bacteria.
Then, there is the problem of the livestock becoming food that we happily indulge in. There have been numerous studies presenting how antibiotic-resistant bacteria are thriving in meat sold nationwide in retail source. Restaurants and fast-food chains alike are under pressure to change the way they source food and commit to antibiotic-free sourcing.
In addition to the food industry’s will to commit to lasting changes that will positively impact public health, how the FDA is set to fight antibiotic resistance and superbugs matters. Starting with farming practices and livestock is a good first step.
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