Antibiotics in the Pig Chow = Pathogens in Our Pork

bacon-sandwich

I love bacon.

And I’m not alone.

A Google search for bacon turns up 8,440,000 hits.

And 23,600 of those hits are videos. Videos?

Who is watching bacon videos?

You’re watching bacon videos, that’s who.

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But maybe not after reading Nicholas Kristof’s piece in the New York Times.

Pathogens in Our Pork

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.

Regardless of whether the bacteria came from the pigs or from humans who handled the meat, the results should sound an alarm bell, for MRSA already kills more than 18,000 Americans annually, more than AIDS does.

18,000 Deaths – caused by MRSA infected bacon (and/or other pork products…like sausages)

MRSA (pronounced “mersa”) stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. People often get it from hospitals, but as I wrote in my last column, a new strain called ST398 is emerging and seems to find a reservoir in modern hog farms. Research by Peter Davies of the University of Minnesota suggests that 25 percent to 39 percent of American hogs carry MRSA.

Public health experts worry that pigs could pass on the infection by direct contact with their handlers, through their wastes leaking into ground water (one study has already found antibiotic-resistant bacteria entering ground water from hog farms), or through their meat, though there has been no proven case of someone getting it from eating pork. Thorough cooking will kill the bacteria, but people often use the same knife to cut raw meat and then to chop vegetables. Or they plop a pork chop on a plate, cook it and then contaminate it by putting it back on the original plate.

Yet the central problem here isn’t pigs, it’s humans. Unlike Europe and even South Korea, the United States still bows to agribusiness interests by permitting the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feed. That’s unconscionable.

And why do American farmers (Canadian too) keep dosing their pigs with antibiotics?

The answer is simple: politics.

Legislation to ban the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in agriculture has always been blocked by agribusiness interests. Louise Slaughter of New York, who is the sole microbiologist in the House of Representatives, said she planned to reintroduce the legislation this coming week.

“We’re losing the ability to treat humans,” she said. “We have misused one of the best scientific products we’ve had.”

So, who feels like a nice big BLT sandwich?

Not me.

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Note:   I apologize if I ruined anyone’s appetite for bacon. Maybe you should consider switching over to organic bacon that isn’t full of antibiotics. Just a suggestion.

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7 thoughts on “Antibiotics in the Pig Chow = Pathogens in Our Pork

  1. I like bacon, we used to produce our own form our own pigs but…

    I have spent almost decade on this disaster, day after day: there at the beginning, with pigs and in pig country when the horror story started. We decided on a self-sufficient lifestyle and walked into a nightmare.

    There is little doubt that MRSA in pigs has been leaking into the hospitals for some years.

    There was a nasty mutation to a porcine circovirus in Britain in 1999 which caused an epidemic that required huge quantities of antibiotics to handle the consequences.

    MRSA in pigs was the result, usually the ST398 strain.

    The Dutch picked up the problem about four years ago and commendably make everything they knew public.

    Both circovirus and MRSA epidemics have now travelled the world along with accompanying cover-ups. It is quite a nasty situation – now coming to light in the USA.

    MRSA st398, mutated circovirus and various other unpleasant zoonotic diseases have now reached American pig farms.

    The people exposing the scandal in the US are to be commended.

    I have extensive records available to anyone researching the link and can often answer general questions quickly and accurately.


    Regards
    Pat Gardiner
    Release the results of testing British pigs for MRSA and C.Diff now!
    http://www.go-self-sufficient.com and http://animal-epidemics.blogspot.com

  2. Thank you. Now I might just be able to get my husband to stop eating the stuff! Bacon/sausage=nothing but fat anyway.

  3. There is a new weapon in the fight against MRSA that is now FDA-cleared and commercially available in the United States. The Microcyn® Technology (www.oculusis.com/us/technology) is a safe-as-saline anti-infective that quickly eradicates a broad range of pathogens, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria (including MRSA and VRE), viruses, fungi and spores. Dual-action in nature, in addition to killing the infection, the Microcyn also accelerates the wound-healing process by reducing inflammation in the wound and increasing nutrient-rich blood and oxygen flow to the wound bed. Twenty-five clinical studies have demonstrated Microcyn to be both safe and effective in killing pathogens. There’s an excellent doctor discussion of this new technology at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAiWWNCfYH4

    There is a Microcyn formulation available for animals called Vetericyn (www.vetericyn.com)

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