Industry survey shows confusion about antibiotic use in livestock

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, May 7, 2014 - The American Meat Institute today released the results of a survey that shows consumers are confused about the causes of antibiotic resistance and the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry production. At the same time, AMI published a brochure to counter the misconceptions.

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In the survey, more than 2,100 adults were asked to pick what the Centers for Disease Control sees as the “greatest contributing factor to human antibiotic resistance.” Only 41 percent correctly answered “health professionals over-prescribing to people,” while 18 percent thought use of antibiotics in livestock production was the main cause. About 7 percent blamed antimicrobial hand sanitizers, and 5 percent picked drinking water. Some 28 percent were unsure.

AMI cited a statement by CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, at a September 2013 press conference to release a report on antibiotics. “Right now,” Frieden said, “the most acute problem is in hospitals. And the most resistant organisms in hospitals are emerging in those settings because of poor antimicrobial stewardship among humans.”  In fact, he said half of all antibiotic prescriptions given to humans are unnecessary.

In a news release, AMI also pointed out that its members are in the process of phasing out the use of antibiotics to promote animal growth, as recommended by the CDC and as requested by the Food and Drug Administration.

The survey, conducted online in early March by the Harris Poll, also indicated confusion about the issue of antibiotic residues. Almost 40 percent of respondents thought that unsafe levels of antibiotics are commonly present in meat products on supermarket shelves. AMI said, however, that government data show that “violative” antibiotic residues are “virtually non-existent.”

In 2011, AMI said, “USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service screened meat and poultry for 128 chemicals, and 99 percent of the tested carcasses were free of all of them.”

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