Investigators have found that distillers' grains-- a popular byproduct of ethanol production-- often contains antibiotics. Of course, distillers' dried grains with solubles is becoming an increasingly common ingredient in swine diets. The dairy, poultry and beef sectors also are feeding distillers' byproducts.
Ethanol producers use penicillin and virginiamycin to kill bacteria during the fermentation process. This raises two potential concerns:
- These treatments might promote the growth of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
- Antibiotics could find their way to humans through the food chain.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has taken a mostly hands-off approach to the use of antibiotics in the ethanol industry, according to a news item presented recently on Minnesota Public Radio. “But amid increasing concerns over food safety in recent years, the agency is taking a closer look,” according to the news report.
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