Antibiotics have been an effective means of combating harmful bacteria in livestock and poultry for the last 40 years. The drugs, such as penicillin and tetracycline, are also used to enhance farm animals' growth rates.
However, critics claim that regular use of antibiotics in animal feed will ultimately pose a serious health threat to humans. Some researchers believe that this practice will create strains of super bacteria in meat-producing animals that would prove resistant to treatment. Consequently, the meat would carry these drug-resistant bacteria to humans.
This argument has been partially adopted by the Food and Drug Administration, which is opposed to the use of some antibiotics in animal feed, but has been hampered in imposing a ban on their use by Congress. Nevertheless, recent events may trigger a closer look at the antibiotics argument, according to industry observers.
A recent survey by the Seattle-King Co. Health Department may be the first in a series of reports that begins to substantiate this drug-resistant bacteria theory, according to Science magazine.
Researchers in Seattle found that a bacteria, Campylobacter jejeuni, isolated from both contaminated chickens and humans, who consumed the affected meat, showed a "pattern of resistance to antibiotics." Furthermore, tests revealed that 30% of the bacteria isolated from the chickens and humans in this instance was resistant to tetracycline. Estimates state that tetracycline is now administered to about 30% of the nation's poultry, Science reported.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group, claims that antibiotic-laced animal feed is responsible for 270,000 cases of salmonella infection in humans and more than 100 deaths each year. The center is pressing the FDA to take another look at the antibiotics issue this year.
Cash Stimulates Gluttony--In order to succeed in the fast-food business, a chain of convenience purveyors needs something different. A company from New Brunswick, N.J., has obviously come across just such a distinctive style. The firm, called Stuff Yer Face, accumulated $1.9 million in sales at three of its locations with something called the Stromboli sandwich, reports Restaurants and Institutions magazine.
Apparently named after the active volcano on an Italian island, the creation features cheese, meats, vegetables and sauce that are wrapped in dough and then baked. In keeping with the Stuff Yer Face image, the Stromboli comes in two sizes: Large and huge.
Hold the Animal Fat--The huge Stromboli is not likely to be included, but a vegetarian organization has compiled a list a fast foods that are edible for those concerned about consuming meat and meat byproducts.
Baltimore Vegetarians is offering a 16-page list of low-cholesterol and vegetarian options offered by fast-food chains. Not recommended for those who abstain from meat, fish and fowl are the French fries served at Burger King, which are cooked in animal fats. The same goes for the beans at Taco Bell, which are prepared in lard.
On the animal-free side are the ice creams at Baskin Robbins, which contain only vegetable stabilizers and Denny's low-cholesterol breakfast alternatives featuring egg substitutes. This list of foods that are free from animal byproducts can be obtained by contacting the Baltimore Vegetarians at (301) 752-VEGV.