Foodborne illnesses afflicts 4.2 million people each year in the United States, resulting in approximately 1,600 deaths and costing an estimated 9.2 billion dollars. Two foodborne pathogens that are often associated with poultry meat include Salmonella and Campylobacter jejuni.
Salmonella was found to be the one of the enteric pathogens with higher mortality rates followed by C. jejuni and E. coli 0157:H7 according to a Food Protection Report (1998).
Campylobacter is the leading cause of diarrhea affecting between 2 and 8 million individuals each year resulting in approximately 800 deaths. More alarming is the increased frequency with which antibiotic resistant campylobacter has been isolated.
Because immunocompromised people are the primary recipients of antibiotic therapy to treat campylobacteriosis, antibiotic resistant campylobacter represents an emerging food safety issue.
The CDC estimated that of the 40 million patients hospitalized each year in the United States, approximately 13,300 die annually from infections caused by antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.
The number of deaths related to non-treatable infections is increasing each year. Therefore, the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria represents an enormous health threat.
The emergence of antibiotic resistant organisms is generally thought to stem from the broad use of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine. Repeated exposure to antibiotics can lead to the selective emergence of antibiotic resistance that may be acquired or evolved.
In a recent report, it has been estimated that 80 percent of farm animal diets including swine, cattle and poultry are being supplemented with subtherapeutic levels of antibiotics to enhance growth.
According to the CDC, nineteen classes of antibiotics are approved for use in animals to promote growth rates and production. Of these antibiotics, six are important in the treatment of human illnesses. This represents a significant health risk because animal foods are thought to represent a transfer mechanism for the resistant bacteria to humans.
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Article made possible through the contribution of World Nutrition Forum-Biomin.