Help for US Consumers Confused about Antibiotics

US - A new survey reveals that consumers are confused about the causes of antibiotic resistance and the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production.
calendar icon 16 May 2014
clock icon 3 minute read

The survey was conducted online in March 2014 among over 2,100 US adults ages 18 and older by Harris Poll for the American Meat Institute (AMI).

When asked “According to the CDC, which of the following is the greatest contributing factor to human antibiotic resistance,” only four in 10 Americans (41 per cent) correctly answered “health professionals over-prescribing to people.” Eighteen per cent thought use of antibiotics in livestock production was the number one contributing factor according to the CDC. Seven per cent thought the CDC found antimicrobial hand sanitisers to be the biggest factor; five per cent thought the answer was drinking water and 28 per cent said they were unsure.

During a September 2013 press conference to release a report on antibiotics, CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, said: “Right now, the most acute problem is in hospitals. And the most resistant organisms in hospitals are emerging in those settings because of poor antimicrobial stewardship among humans.” In fact, he said that half of all antibiotic prescriptions given to humans are unnecessary.

CDC also said that it is important to use good stewardship in administering antibiotics during livestock and poultry production and that antibiotic use for animal growth promotion should be phased out, an effort that is already under way at the request of the Food and Drug Administration and a move that the AMI supports.

Survey data also reflect confusion around the issue of antibiotic residues. Four in 10 consumers (39 per cent) think that unsafe levels of antibiotics are commonly present in the meat and poultry products found at the grocery store, though government data show that violative antibiotic residues in meat and poultry are virtually non-existent. In 2011, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service screened meat and poultry for 128 chemicals, and 99 per cent of the tested carcasses were free of all of them.

AMI has released a new, referenced and reviewed brochure called 'Antibiotics in Livestock & Poultry Production: Sort Fact From Fiction'.

AMI also released a new Media MythCrusher to help media avoid some of the most common errors in reporting about the antibiotic issue.

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