The routine use of antibiotics in modern factory farms has led to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as ‘superbugs’. Strains of the infamous methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) were established in UK pig farms and cephalosporin-resistant E. coli originate directly from the overuse of antibiotics in broiler chicken farms. Despite an EU ban on growth-promoting antibiotics in animal feed, today even vaster quantities of antibiotics are used, relabelled for ‘disease prevention’.
Bacteria resistant to the antibiotic colistin (the strongest antibiotic and our last defence against multi-resistant bacteria) have recently emerged in zoos and pig farms. The resistance genes in these bugs can be passed between different types of bacteria – and can infect humans. This is a new development showing how antibiotic use in animals is creating a major human health risk.
The need to restrict and even ban the use of certain antibiotics in animals has never been so urgent. We are charging headlong towards a ‘post-antibiotic era’ where bacterial infections in people may no longer respond to the antibiotics we have been relying on for years. So, if you handle raw meat or undercook meat, you could expose yourself to bacteria which may be antibiotic-resistant, but if you overcook it, you could be at risk from carcinogenic compounds. The dilemma is a no-brainer – ditch meat altogether!
Watch the absorbing docu-thriller Swine!
Read more about superbugs.
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