What's in Our Food - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic resistance is a big threat – but what is it?

What is Antibiotic Resistance?

According to the CDC, infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the rise. This can only happen when pathogens (disease-causing microbes) learn to live through antibiotic treatments and adapt to assaults.

Because antibiotics are routinely fed to livestock – the meats we eat – we consume them as well. Pathogens have plenty of practice dodging medications, then, and new “superbugs” are developing as a result. In fact, 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are mixed into animal feed, which helps keep the animals healthy and, in many cases, promotes rapid growth in close quarters.

The Department of Agriculture found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in:

  • 81 percent of ground turkey
  • 69 percent of pork chops
  • 55 percent of ground beef
  • 39 percent of chicken breasts, wings and thighs

That means sooner than later, antibiotics are going to stop working. So what will happen then?

What Will Happen When Antibiotics Stop Working?

Right now, as many as 23,000 Americans die from antibiotic-resistant infections each year.

According to Steve Solomon, M.D., the CDC’s Director of the Office of Antimicrobial Resistance, “Some of these bacteria are at the cusp of being able to resist all of the antibiotics we have. It’s like being right at the edge of a cliff, and if we don’t act with seriousness, we are going to go over it.”

The World Health Organization’s Director General, Margaret Chan, M.D., agrees.

“Things as common as strep throat or a… scratched knee could once again kill,” says Chan.

The Food and Drug Administration says we can take steps to protect ourselves from superbugs, including:

  • Avoiding hand sanitizers with antibacterial agents
  • Washing hands with soap and water
  • Cooking meat thoroughly
  • Ask your doctor for narrow-spectrum antibiotics if you have an infection

Are You Worried?

Scientists are working on a Plan B for antibiotic-resistant microbes, but right now, there’s no definitive answer.

Are you worried about superbugs? What do you do to keep your family safe? Share your ideas and opinions on my Facebook or Twitter pages – I’d love to hear how you’re handling these microscopic threats.

Carlos Gamino