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Study Finds Origins of MRSA Strain in Food Animals

by 5m Editor
23 February 2012, at 8:18am

US - Stephen McDonnell, founder and CEO of Applegate, the leading producer of natural and organic meats and cheeses, responded yesterday to a letter from Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) about the company's practices and policies regarding antibiotic use in raising animals for food, just as a new study released by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) shows that an antibiotic-resistant strain of Staph may have evolved after jumping from humans to animals and back to humans.

"As a parent and business owner who deals every day with issues surrounding raising animals for food, I applaud Rep. Slaughter's efforts to bring transparency to the issue of antibiotics in our food supply," said Mr McDonnell. "I encourage all the food business leaders who received the letter to respond so that the American people can know more about the food they are eating – especially when it comes to antibiotics," added McDonnell, who in partnership with STOP Foodborne Illness launched Citizens Against Superbugs, a campaign committed to educating the public about the dangers of antibiotic overuse in animal agriculture and its effects on the environment and human health.

"The study released by TGen strongly illustrates the connection between antibiotic overuse in food animal production and a public health crisis of antibiotic resistance," said Mr McDonnell. "Rep. Slaughter's work to shed more light on this growing problem couldn't have come at a better time."

In her letter, which was submitted to 60 fast food companies, producers, processors, and grocery chains, Rep. Slaughter asked company executives to disclose policies on antibiotic use and what percentage of meat and poultry sold were raised with or without antibiotics. The Food and Drug Administration reports that 80 per cent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animal agriculture, and most are given to healthy animals.

"For Applegate, the response to Rep. Slaughter is quite simple: Applegate does not sell any meat or poultry that was produced with antibiotics," said Mr McDonnell. "Applegate works with a network of nearly a thousand family farmers who use common-sense animal husbandry practices like a clean environment, enough space, and a 100 per cent vegetarian diet, and as a result, we've managed to have less than 1 per cent of our producers' animals fall ill."

The family farmers in Applegate's network rarely have to administer antibiotics to sick animals, but when they do, those animals are removed from our program and sold to conventional producers, according to Mr McDonnell.

"Americans understand that public health is at stake when it comes to antibiotic overuse in animals," said Mr McDonnell, adding that a recent survey conducted by Citizens Against Superbugs found that 75 per cent of Americans want government to do something to restrict the use of antibiotics in animal farms, and 71 per cent believe that antibiotic overuse and misuse is causing antibiotic resistance and a human health crisis. "It's time to act so that antibiotics will keep working for all of us – animals and humans."

Consumers can learn more about the survey and take part in the conversation by clicking here.

You can view the study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute by clicking here.