Fourteen illnesses, half of which required hospitalization, have now been linked to an outbreak of Salmonella-tainted beef sold at Hannaford’s, a New England supermarket chain. The company issued a recall last week of all ground beef with a sell by date of December 17 or earlier.
The strain, Salmonella typhimurium, tested resistant to several classes of common antibiotics, which can further complicate treatment. In August, meat giant Cargill recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey which was contaminated with Salmonella heidelberg, another antibiotic resistant strain of the pathogen, which was responsible for at least 129 illnesses and one death.
These kinds of outbreaks, says Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), are exactly why the federal government must act to curb the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals.
“If an animal is sick, it should be treated. But the routine, regular dosing of antibiotics to healthy animals is absolutely contributing to the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It would be like a mother sprinkling antibiotics on their son or daughter’s Cheerios every morning to prevent them from getting sick. It’s ridiculous. We must act now or we will continue to see more and more cases like this as we diminish the effectiveness of life-saving medications.”
Rep. Slaughter has introduced legislation, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, that would phase out the routine dosing of livestock with antibiotics in order to protect their effectiveness for treating human illnesses.