Critically acclaimed author Jonathan Safran Foer published an opinion piece on CNN Wednesday tying the eating of animals to the high incidence of foodborne illness.
“Why aren’t more people aware of, and angry about, the rates of avoidable food-borne illness” wrote Foer, who recently published “Eating Animals” a controversial non-fiction book about the production and consumption of meat.
Foer surmises that people are not more upset about pathogen-contaminated meat because they are not aware of the widespread problem.
“If you know what to look for, the pathogen problem comes into terrifying focus,” said Foer, who explains that many times when people think they have a simple flu, they are really experiencing food poisoning.
According to Foer, a big chunk of the estimated 76 million cases of foodborne illness in the US every year are caused by “bugs” linked to the factory farming of animals.
“Beyond the sheer number of illnesses linked to factory farming, we know that factory farms are contributing to the growth of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens simply because these farms consume so many antimicrobials,” said Foer.
“Increasingly, those animals are making us sick,” adds Foer.
“The implications for creating drug-resistant pathogens are quite straightforward,” said Foer. “Study after study has shown that antimicrobial resistance follows quickly on the heels of the introduction of new drugs on factory farms.”
A broad coalition of public health organizations also believes the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics is a threat to human health, including the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine, and the World Health Organization.
“Breeding genetically uniform and sickness-prone birds in the overcrowded, stressful, feces-infested and artificially lit conditions of factory farms promotes the growth and mutation of pathogens,” said Foer, whose descriptions of factory farms is stomach-turning (actress Natalie Portman recently turned vegan after reading Foer’s book).