“Antimicrobials are integral to food production and manufacturing, providing for good physical condition of crops, good health of food animals, and maintaining sanitation during food processing,” said Michael Doyle, at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s recent Stakeholders Summit in Arlington, Va. “Antimicrobials are important to reduce and control foodborne pathogens in food animals and in their further processing.”

Doyle, a professor at the University of Georgia and leader of the Institute of Food Technologists team of experts studying antimicrobial resistance, noted that 95 percent of antibiotic use in agriculture is for therapeutic treatment of disease or control of pathogens. He also said that antibiotic-resistant intestinal bacteria may be present in food animals, regardless of the animals’ exposure to an antibiotic.

Further Doyle indicated that when the EU eliminated in-feed antibiotics, it likely resulted in increased intestinal disease in animals, causing therapeutic antibiotic use to rise, which then triggered an increase in resistant microbes in EU nations. Doyle noted that some types of antimicrobial resistance in S. Typhimurium, C. jejuni, and E. coli have increased in Europe since the ban was instituted.

“Sweeping risk-management measures that are proposed for a certain classification of use, such as growth promotion, can be draconian and without predictable results,” warned Doyle after referring to the results of the EU experience. Doyle also noted that there is no notable difference in microbial resistance from animals raised in confined-animal-feeding operations when compared to animals from other systems used for growing food animals.

“The findings of Doyle and the IFT panel of experts indicate that it is time for the inaccurate urban legend of antimicrobial resistance being caused by conventional-animal-feeding operations to end,” said Kay Johnson, Alliance executive vice president. “This summer the IFT report indicated that eliminating antimicrobials from food animal production may have little positive impact on resistant bacteria of concern to human health. Then, just a couple weeks ago, a team of scientists at the University of Georgia found that antibiotic resistance doesn’t necessarily stem from antibiotic use.”

Source: The Animal Agriculture Alliance