Friday, December 13, 2013

When Are Antibiotic-Resistant Microbes "Superbugs?"


Last week, the Environmental Working Group released a report analyzing antibiotic resistance of bacteria detected in supermarket meat. We unearthed data buried deep in the annual report of theNational Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, a federal food safety effort run by the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
This government report is unfamiliar to most readers because it consists of large amounts of raw data and undecipherable jargon. EWG crunched the numbers to make these data accessible to busy readers who don’t have time to parse a dense 82-page, highly technical government tome.  We want to show you what you deserve to know  -- that the increasing presence of antibiotic-resistant microbes on meat is a serious problem for public health.
Our report struck at nerve at FDA.  The agency issued a statement calling it “misleading” and “alarmist.”  You can read our full response here.  Essentially, the FDA argued that antibiotic resistance to only one drug is not that big of a deal because there are still some other antibiotics that could treat bacterial infections – for now.

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