Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) reacted to the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) report this week, calling the increases in certain types of drug resistance among bacteria found on retail meat and ground poultry “alarming.”

“We are standing on the brink of a public health catastrophe,” said Rep. Slaughter. “The threat of antibiotic-resistant disease is real, it is growing and those most at risk are our seniors and children. We can help stop this threat by drastically reducing the overuse of antibiotics in our food supply, and Congress should act swiftly to do so today.”

According to the statement put out by Slaughter’s office, more antibiotics are fed to food animals in North Carolina than are given to all Americans. “Thanks to this kind of misuse, antibiotic-resistant diseases now kill more Americans than HIV/AIDS,” reads the statement.

The press releases notes that according to NARMS, which is run by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health laboratories, fifty-one percent of bacteria found on ground turkey were resistant to ampicillin, which is “regularly used to illnesses such as such as ear infections, bladder infections, pneumonia, gonorrhea, and E. coli or salmonella infection.”

“In some cases, researchers found bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics,” the statement adds. “The report found that 50.3 percent of antibiotic-resistant bacteria found on ground turkey were resistant to three or more antibiotic classes. Interestingly, no bacteria were found to be resistant to vancomycin and linezolid , which are two antibiotics not used in food animal production.”

Rep. Slaughter is the author of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, legislation that would phase out medically important antibiotics from being used subtherapeutically. 

  • Richard Raymond

    If the Congresswoman is serious about public health and protecting us, she should stop saying things like ampicillin is “regularly used to (sic) illnesses such as……gonorrhea, and E. coli or salmonella infection. Antibiotics of any class are contraindicated in the treatment of E coli, and ceftriaxone is the drug of choice for gonorrhea, not ampicillin. Then again, thinking about her statement, what is the risk of a human being becoming infected with Neisseria gonorrhea that is resistant to ampicillin, or any other drug,  because it is used in chicken flocks? Seems just a little bit ridiculous to me, how about you?

    • Katy Keiffer

      Doc, you can split hairs all you want, but the facts are that numerous food borne pathogens are resistant to many of our antibiotics through overuse in livestock ag. Salmonella Heidelburg, Newport, Tymphurium etc… just to name a few.

      Then there is the now growing issue of MRSA traded back and forth between pork workers and porkers…the industry simply is not doing enough to eliminate antibiotics used in human medicine from livestock ag.

       I know its gonna cut into the bottom line, but you have to bite the bullet.  sub therapeutic dosage for any reason just can’t go on, and “voluntary” withdrawal of the critical drugs from food and water rations is simply not happening fast enough, if at all. And just to pre-empt you, I have read up on what drugs do and don’t go into animal feed and water..I live for your blogs, you know that!

       I for one, will gladly pay a few extra pennies a pound to make this stop, and if consumers are properly educated that its a choice between keeping our medical arsenal or paying more for meat, they will pay. 

      • Richard Raymond

        Katy, that 82 page NARMS report is pretty heavy reading and since I am “semi-retired”, I slogged thru it. No denial that Salmonella resistance to ampicillin and cephalosporin is increasing, but the resistance to drugs now banned from use in animals is either at zero or decreasing, and that includes some critical to human medicine like the quinolones, vancomycin  and Cipro specifically. The NARMS report also indicated most of the bacteria tested had no resistance to the Beta lactams, which would include MRSA and others. As for the ”voluntary” withdrawal, I think the industry is still waiting for the FDA’s proposed guidelines announced last Summer to be posted in final format. At least I hope that is what is happening. If industry does not step up to the plate and respond appropriately the ball game just may be over.
        Plus I like splitting hairs. When in the public arena every single miscue or misstatement was regularly used against me and my party. Statements made by “experts” should be double checked by speech and press release writers. I could also add that most health care providers would not use ampicillin for bladder infections or pneumonias as drug of first choice either. Credibility suffers when statements that are just not true are made. And hey, thanks for the feedback and comments. I appreciate the banter and your views.  

    •  These antibiotics aren’t being administered to flocks and herds because they have a disease. Off label use of any kind should prohibited unless it can be shown that it is in the community interest to approve it. In this case it is clearly and definitely not in the community interest, not in any way. At best it makes meat a few cents a pound cheaper to buy.

  • Even though the federal government, and everyone else with any dealings with this topic has known for decades that this was happening, under President Obama guidance was removed regarding the routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock, not because they were sick, but because it was more profitable for meat factories and feed lots. This government and this administration has an answer for everything, drones for brown children and poison for the rest of us.