Poultry's Persistence Problem - Drug-Resistant Campylobacter in Chicken

US - Mounting evidence suggests that the poultry industry's use of antibiotics promotes antibiotic resistance among the foodborne bacteria that infect humans.

One such bacterium is Campylobacter, a pathogen common to chicken products. Every year more than 1 million Americans develop Campylobacter -induced food poisoning from eating undercooked contaminated chicken. Resistant strains of Campylobacter are a growing public health threat, particularly among elderly and immunocompromised patients.

This month, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health provide evidence suggesting that chickens raised without antibiotics are less likely to carry antibiotic-resistant strains of Campylobacter [EHP 113:557-560].

The study focused on fluoroquinolones (FQs), a class of antimicrobials used to control the bacterium Escherichia coli in broiler chickens. Of the two FQs initially approved for use in poultry, Sara Flox WSP and Baytril, only the latter remains on the market. The Food and Drug Administration is seeking to repeal approval for Baytril due to concerns that it contributes to microbial resistance.

The authors collected chicken products from two "antibiotic-free" producers (Bell & Evans and Eberly Poultry) and two of the nation's largest conventional producers (Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms).

The conventional producers claimed to have stopped using FQs in February 2002. The authors began sampling chicken products one year later, in 2003. All samples were obtained from grocery stores in or near Baltimore, Maryland.

Source: FoodConsumer.org
calendar icon 19 September 2005
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