This is a talk on Zoom about my new book, Let’s Ask Marion.
6:30 at the Jewish Community Center. Information and registration (required for Zoom link) here.
Earlier this month, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) issued a report on antibiotic-resistant bacteria in meat: Superbugs Invade American Supermarkets.
Consumers have a right to know that federal scientists are finding antibiotic-resistant bacteria on retail meat in high percentages.
The report must have struck a nerve. The FDA has now posted a rebuttal on its website, along with the agency’s interpretation of data in the 2011 Retail Meat Annual Report of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS).
The EWG, says FDA, “oversimplifies the NARMS data and provides misleading conclusions.”
The FDA particularly objects to EWG’s use of the term “superbugs.”
We believe that it is inaccurate and alarmist to define bacteria resistant to one, or even a few, antimicrobials as “superbugs” if these same bacteria are still treatable by other commonly used antibiotics.
The FDA says the NARMS data show:
The EWG’s response to the FDA’s rebuttal:
This is the best the agency can do?
It has been failing to protect the public health on this issue for 40 years, only recently issuing a voluntary guidance to scale back on the worst antibiotic abuses.
What are we to make of this dispute?
Beyond questions about how best to frame antibiotic resistance, some facts are clear.
It would be better for public health to end the use of antibiotics as growth promoters.
The FDA’s current stance on use of animal antibiotics appears to be more about protecting the meat industry than about protecting public health.
While waiting for the politics to get better (and this might be a long wait), the EWG has some tips for avoiding antibiotic-resistant bacteria in meat. I can’t think of a single good reason not to follow these recommendations, except that they place the burden of avoiding antibiotic-resistant bacteria on you rather than on the meat industry.
That’s why EWG’s advice to Be Vocal makes especially good sense: