CSPI on Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria on Poultry

Statement of CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal

December 10, 2002

Consumer Reports’ findings mean that food poisoning illnesses from chicken are likely to be more serious, causing more doctor visits, longer hospitalizations, and more deaths because of antibiotic resistance. It’s good news that there is less bacteria on chicken generally, but it is very bad news that more of that bacteria is resistant to the kinds of antibiotics used to treat serious food poisoning.

The Food and Drug Administration should not allow antibiotics that are important to human medicine to be squandered on the production of food animals. Because FDA action could take years, Congress should act to protect public health by banning medically important drugs from routine use in animal production.

Until then, consumers should actively seek out meat and poultry that is certified organic or grown without antibiotics. It certainly wouldn’t be free from bacteria, but it would be less likely to harbor those pathogens that are showing this alarming resistance to antibiotics. And if more and more consumers demand meat and poultry grown without antibiotics, more producers would be inclined to supply it.


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