Outbreak of antibiotic-resistant salmonella in Cargill ground turkey leads to renewed debate over use of antibiotics in livestock

LOS ANGELES , August 15, 2011 () – The recall of Cargill Inc. ground turkey contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Salmonella earlier this month has renewed debate over the use of antibiotics in livestock, Dow Jones Newswires reported Aug. 12.

The contamination, which caused 107 illnesses and one death in the U.S., led to a 36-million pound recall of ground turkey. It was the third-largest recall of meat in U.S. history, the publication stated.

There is concern among a number of food-safety experts, including the Food and Drug Administration that prolonged use of antibiotics can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are dangerous to humans.

Last year, the FDA set voluntary limitations on antibiotics use among livestock, which in 2009 ingested approximately 28.6 million pounds of the drugs, 75% of which came from feed. In a move to reduce antibiotic use, the FDA, which oversees livestock feed, would like to see veterinarians oversee antibiotics prescriptions.

Industry groups, though, say that antibiotics, by lessening the occurrence of animal illness, encourage the growth of livestock, which in turn brings about lower prices for consumers. Sherrie Rosenblatt of the National Turkey Federation touted the greater productivity resulting from antibiotic use, the article stated.

The Cargill outbreak has revived the debate, which dates back to the 1970s, when the FDA first became concerned by antibiotics use. It remains to be seen what effect the ground turkey recall will have on regulations.

This spring, another outbreak of antibiotic-resistant salmonella led to the recall of 55,000 pounds of raw and frozen Hormel Foods Corp. turkey burgers. Twelve people in 10 states became ill from the tainted meat.

The primary source of this article is Dow Jones Newswires, New York, New York, on August 12, 2011.

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