This is something many people saw coming, and unfortunately for consumers, some of those have been hiding it: a connection between needless medicating of chickens (as well as other poultry and meat) and antibiotic-resistant germs. The news agency Reuters has delved into this diabolical cesspool of poultry processing in some of the most thorough researching anyone will ever see (http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/farmaceuticals-the-drugs-fed-to-farm-animals-and-the-risks-posed-to-humans/ ). It should be spread far and wide; the public must be made aware as soon as possible, as much as possible, of the deceptive practices by so many of these factory farms and processors. The tainting of our food is evil enough in itself; the aftermath, which is causing great numbers of product recalls now, and God alone knows how many illnesses in the future, is frightening.
The development of bacteria that are able to survive treatment with most antibiotics, such as the Heidelberg strain of salmonella, and MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) as just two examples, has been the cause of many deaths in the past couple decades or more. (See http://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/ ). Many infections involving these and other superbugs, as they’ve been informally dubbed, crop up in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities. Many, however, are now being discovered in our processed foods. Most prevalently in poultry and other meats, they can also turn up in vegetables, fruits and other types of “factory foods.” Is it merely, as has been the case prior to recent times so often, only a matter of poor sanitation of the plants and lack of personal hygiene by staff?
In Reuters’ report, they found that the overuse of antibiotics, particularly those considered “medically important to humans”, are being routinely given to birds destined for public consumption industry-wide. In some cases the eggs are treated; in all instances, poultry are dosed—even overdosed—with such drugs at all stages of their lives. The average chicken, for example, is incarcerated in such factory farms for only up to six weeks before it is slaughtered and processed. In that time these birds are crowded together with no room to move around, and subjected to plenty of physical neglect and abuse. (https://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty/birds-factory-farms ) Apart from the filthy living (if you can call it that) conditions and stress that reduces their immunity, such birds are prime candidates for illnesses of various types. Yet the routine administration of antibiotics is not all about warding off diseases.
Some of the drugs given to these birds are strictly for rapid growth and weight gain, which happen to be more or less side effects of the medications. Feed tickets—documents listing what drug regimen is fed to the animals—list such pharmaceuticals as tylosin, bacitracin and virginiamycin, among others, that the FDA considers of extreme importance in human medicine. Yet these drugs are given to poultry in order to increase their weight only, not due to any illness.
Neither the FDA nor any other governmental agency is yet monitoring such practices nor are they legislating against it. In another two years, the Food and Drug Administration plans to get involved in some way, reportedly. In the meantime, not only are the animals afflicted by these drugs becoming more of a group incubation system themselves for antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, they are spreading the infections to consumers, both humans and other animals.
Both humans’ food and animal feed that depend on these over-medicated, artificially-grown birds are at risk. Those who work with sick poultry, for example, are at Ground Zero for exposure to salmonella, listeria and other bacteria. Through lack of hand-washing practices and general filth in the industrial settings, they spread the contaminants around both at work and in their communities. Food is then distributed far and wide, and no one is the wiser as to what germs are in any given shipment until it is often too late. Random sampling done at the production site cannot always be expected to find any source of infection. Quality inspection is never, in any type of industry, a one-hundred-per cent operation; this would be virtually impossible and highly impractical from a production viewpoint.
Thanks to Reuters’ team of Brian Grow, P.J. Huffstutter, and Michael Erman, the world will now be aware of the threat to our food supply by such corporations as Foster Farms, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue, and Tyson. They can deny, lie and threaten all they like, but the truth won’t remain hidden any longer.