Saturday, February 27, 2010


Use of any chemical in food production and processing attracts criticism, some genuine and others unfounded. Whether it is the use of pesticides for crop protection or thousands of chemical additives as process aids there are always two views. The very basis of the birth of organic food industry is because of apprehensions regarding the adverse health consequences that can result from ingesting external substances via the food. Several antibiotics, widely used in meat industry to prevent incidence of microbial contamination during production and processing, are being blamed for drug resistance in human beings and are being investigated for their impact. The meat industry naturally defends use of antibiotics as necessary to prevent avoidable food poisoning but credible scientific evidence against their use calls for a rethink on the issue.

"Without substantiating these claims with evidence from peer-reviewed research, the briefing provided little value to the antibiotics debate," added Love, who attended the briefings. "There is a sizable and rapidly expanding scientific literature documenting the relationship between antibiotic use in food animal production, antibiotic-resistant bacteria isolated from farmers, and the downstream presence of multidrug-resistant bacteria in the environment."

If antibiotics are banned in meat production there is bound to be increased clamor for clearing genetically modified meat products with built in resistance against serious pathogens like Salmonella. The emergence Bt crops is driven by the desire to cut down on chemical pesticides that leave residues in the processed products. A balanced view therefore is necessary when it comes to use of antibiotics, weighing the risk-benefit aspects of their use carefully.

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