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  • teewong 8:57 pm on December 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: antibiotic-resistant, , raw meat, Superbugs   

    “MEAT” Superbugs 

    Antibiotics controversies

    In North America, about 23,000 deaths are reported every year due to superbug infections (antibiotic resistant infections). Antibiotics are given as drugs to treat bacterial infections. When the bacteria become resistant to three or more types of antibiotics, they lead to the rise of superbugs (Consumer Reports, 2015). Many factors can contribute to the cause of these antibiotic resistant superbug infections, one of which is the abuse of antibiotics in animal farm practices. Consumer Reports did a 3-year investigation on raw meat products revealing superbugs present in four major types of raw meat: turkey, chicken, beef, and shrimp. Samples taken in for testing showed superbugs present in: 84% of turkey samples, 57% of chicken samples, and 14% for both beef and shrimp samples (Consumer Reports, 2015). There may be a big gap between certain meat types, but this study was done over three years, and the sample size ranged from 168 to 304. As it is shown above, the presence of superbugs in raw products indirectly proves the overuse of antibiotics in animal farm, which leads to the death of superbug infected patients.

    On the other hand, according to the Consumer Reports, the meat and poultry industries claim that drugs (antibiotics) were not widely overused and the use of drugs are important to ensure animal’s health, welfare and food safety to a certain extent. However, the science behind it suggests otherwise.

    How does antibiotic resistant occur?

    DNA mutations often occur naturally in bacteria, but when a gene that is responsible for the bacterium’s survival is mutated, antibiotic resistance may appear. Antibiotic resistance happens when a pathogen manages to escape from being killed by antibiotics and therefore, is able replicate in numbers. However, it does not need a daily routine of antibiotic applications to encourage superbugs to flourish as there is also another mechanism in promoting the multiplication. Gene transfer is a common mechanism that happens as a DNA of an organism is passed onto another organism that is nearby; consequently, infecting neighboring organisms.

    image: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-34857015

    Will it cause extreme harm?

    No, as long as you cook the meat to the appropriate temperature, harmful pathogens should not be able to survive and infect us. However, if we do get superbug infections from eating meat that were not cooked properly, it would become a life-threatening situation since superbugs are resistant to all known antibiotics. If there are people who are very concerned with superbugs in the meat, switching to meat products that are labeled “Organic” or “No Antibiotics” will minimize the chances of superbug exposures.


    Main article for this blog: British Columbia,. (2015). Superbugs found in a lot of meat, chicken and fish. Retrieved 5 December 2015, from http://bc.ctvnews.ca/superbugs-found-in-a-lot-of-meat-chicken-and-fish-1.2663299

    Consumerreports.org,. (2015). Making The World Safe From Superbugs – Consumer Reports. Retrieved 5 December 2015, from http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health/making-the-world-safe-from-superbugs/index.htm?utm_source=hootsuite

    • Michelle Ebtia 9:55 pm on December 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I was not surprised to learn that the use of antibiotics in animal farming contributes to the prevalence of antibiotic resistance. To avoid contracting infections cause by such pathogens I always choose to buy meat from organically raised animals. However, I did a quick research in the present literature and surprisingly came across several articles that report the presence of antibiotic resistant pathogens in organic meat, with levels similar to those of conventionally raised animals (LeJeune & Christie 2004; Luangtongkum et al. 2006; Millman et al. 2013). This could be due to cross-contamination post-slaughter or due to the fact that “organic chicks can receive antibiotics via in ovo injections and during the first day of life” (Millman et al. 2013)!!

      Works Cited:
      LeJeune, J. T., & Christie, N. P. (2004). Microbiological Quality of Ground Beef from Conventionally-Reared Cattle and”Raised without Antibiotics”Label Claims. Journal of Food Protection®, 67(7), 1433-1437.

      Luangtongkum, T., Morishita, T. Y., Ison, A. J., Huang, S., McDermott, P. F., & Zhang, Q. (2006). Effect of conventional and organic production practices on the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance of Campylobacter spp. in poultry. Applied and environmental microbiology, 72(5), 3600-3607.

      Millman, J. M., Waits, K., Grande, H., Marks, A. R., Marks, J. C., Price, L. B., & Hungate, B. A. (2013). Prevalence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli in retail chicken: comparing conventional, organic, kosher, and raised without antibiotics. F1000Research, 2.

    • shinnie 4:15 pm on December 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Hello! I have actually read an article on New York Times that a lot of newborns in India have been dying as a result of superbugs infections. This is largely due to an uncontrolled usage of antibiotics that lead to the massive growth of multi-drug resistance bacteria. The lack of sanitation and hygiene forced health agencies to look into increased use of antibiotics. As we have learned in class, babies/young children are the most susceptible to diseases because they have not yet acquired a strong immune systems or micro-flora that helps them combat other pathogenic bacteria. It is even more frightening to note that the routes of transmission… are everywhere! This includes the water, sewage, animals, soil and even humans may b e carriers of these superbugs.

    • Susanna Ko 4:58 pm on December 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I guess since antibiotic residue testing is not part of regulations in India, or is not highly regulated, that this is able to happen. It’s dangerous to have antibiotic residue because the effects of the metabolism/degradation of these residues in human bodies is also unknown. As we’ve learned in class, it could lead to health issues as well as the development of antimicrobial-resistant strains of microorganisms. Why do they suggest that cooking will help? Is it because cooking will denature these antibiotic compounds? What if they become carcinogenic or mutagenic from heating?

      • Susanna Ko 5:05 pm on December 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Sorry India is in response to Shinnie’s post. And I mean that the antibiotic residue testing may not be part of the routine testing in North America.

    • WinnieLiao 8:11 pm on December 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Wow! Thanks Shinnie and Susanna for the discussion! In my opinion sanitary and hygiene controls are especially important for us as consumers when handling food. Public education on prevention of superbugs may be helpful in reducing the infected population; in fact, knowing about this may assist mothers to become more aware of the disease. Additionally, how animals are raised and in what environment they are raised in may also contribute to the safety of our daily diets. I had a couple of questions in mind after reading the article: I wonder why turkey would be on the top of the list? How does shrimp acquire the superbugs? Can fish be potentially contaminated as well?

    • mustafa akhtar 12:09 am on December 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      As a vegetarian, I am once again appalled by this. I find this especially concerning as such meat products could potentially harness growth of stronger and potentially much more dangerous pathogens in the farm environment. It seems like as of now, the only regulations in North America for drug resistance genes are visual quality checks that only scrape the surface, and there is room for more research in this area.

  • Silvia Low 4:34 pm on October 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: antibiotic-resistant, , , , ,   

    Europe: Salmonella Stanley Strikes Again! Find out why S. Stanley keeps refusing to back down. 

    SalmonellaTurkeys Stanley, as friendly as this particular strain of salmonella may sound, is no friend to the European member states at all. S.Stanley may as well be a multi-national celebrity as it has been making headlines across Europe for various food-borne outbreaks since 2011.

    After a string of salmonella outbreaks that affected 7 European states and more than 400 patients, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and other authorities finally initiated investigations on the source of the culprit strain in 2012. Evidence from the investigations led to a suggested source of turkey meat and without slowing down, the notorious S.Stanley continued to make various headlines up until 2014. Now, S.Stanley has re-emerged in clusters throughout 2015 and is taking over a new wave of Austrian turkey supply.

    Between 1 January and 8 October 2015, 141 cases of non-travel related infection with S. Stanley were identified in eight of the nine Austrian provinces. At least 36 of these cases have been traced back to turkey kebabs made with turkey meat supplied by a single retailer located in Slovakia. More trace back by National authorities indicate that the Slovakian retailer sources its turkey meat from a facility in Hungary. This same facility was linked to a S.Stanley cluster back in 2014. Furthermore, recent investigations using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) molecular typing indicate that the 2015 salmonella isolates have the same unique pattern as S.Stanley from the 2011 to 2014 outbreaks.

    So what is the secret to S.Stanley’s everlasting presence?

    Antimicrobial Resistance.

    Since the early 1990s, antimicrobial resistant salmonella strains have emerged and become serious public health concerns. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when pathogenic cases are routinely treated with antimicrobial therapy but result in not eliminating the more resistant bacteria strains. The subsequent result is resistant bacteria strains reproducing, and the antimicrobial treatment becoming ineffective.

    The same strain of Salmonella Stanley has consistently been recognized from 2011-2014 due to its pattern of resistance to nalidixic acid antibiotics. That was up until now, where the 2015 strain of S.Stanley has been identified as having low-level resistance to ciprofloxacin in addition to nalidixic acid antibiotics.

    To prevent further cases of antimicrobial resistance cases, the single most important action is to change the way antibiotics are used. Mostly, the use of antibiotics in people and animals are unnecessary especially in mild cases of infection. Treatment guidelines should be reviewed regularly while considering bacterial resistance patterns.

    Here are some simple tips to prevent Salmonella from spreading in your home:

    • Clean surfaces regularly and wash your hands often especially after coming into contact with animals and animal products.
    • Separate raw and cooked, ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross contamination.
    • Cook food to the right temperature. Checking the colour and texture of meat is not enough to ensure it is safe. Instead, use a food thermometer to check internal food temperatures.
    • Refrigerate foods below 4°C. Germs can grow in many foods within 2 hours and even quicker during the summer.


    Works Cited

    CDC. (2014). Antibiotic Resistance and Food Safety. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/antibiotic-resistance.html

    CDC. (2015). About Antimicrobial Resistance. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about.html

    ECDC. (2015). CDTR Week 41, 4-10 October 2015. . COMMUNICABLE DISEASE THREATS REPORT. Available at: http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications/Publications/communicable-disease-threats-report-10-oct-2015.pdf

    Whitworth, J. (13 October 2015). New Cases reported in multi-year, multi-country Salmonella outbreak. Food Quality News. Available at: http://www.foodqualitynews.com/Food-Outbreaks/Turkey-production-chain-at-centre-of-Salmonella-concerns

    WHO. (2013). Salmonella (non-typhoidal). Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs139/en/

    WHO. (2015). Antimicrobial resistance. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs194/en/

    • ayra casuga 9:57 am on October 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting and intriguing blog! I found it very interesting to see recent real-world cases of antimicrobial resistance playing a large role in the prevalence of food-borne illnesses. I was surprised that the same strain managed to make its way to Australia considering that the outbreaks mostly occurred in Europe. Especially since these Australian outbreaks were non-travel related. Perhaps it was though some sort of international trade or shipment of these products. After reading this blog, I was wondering if the EU are going to add an extra antimicrobial (ciprofloxacin) into their food supply since S. Stanley is resistant to nalidixic acid? If so, wouldn’t that cause an emergence of another, possibly more infective, strain of Salmonella that would be resistant to the new antimicrobial?

    • EmilyChow 7:06 pm on October 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Nice post! It’s interesting to see that just one strain of salmonella could have such a lasting impact in one particular part of Europe. Since it’s emergence in 2011, it’s amazing how S. stanley had continuously been responsible for so many outbreaks. Because the last outbreak was specific to one place, Austria, and also to one source, turkey, it makes me wonder how the food safety regulations are implemented in Europe. Over 9 months in 2015 is quite a period of long time. Are the warnings and regulations the same in Europe as they are here? Perhaps this continuous emergence of salmonella is not only attributed to antimicrobial resistance but also due to how the meat is handled?

    • Michelle Ebtia 11:59 pm on November 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very well written, nicely organized blog!
      As mentioned in the report, the single most important factor that needs to be taken into account while discussing antibiotic (AB) resistance is its use in animals and people. However, as more than 80% of all AB used in the US are fed to farm animals (Levy et al. 1976), the most effective way of controlling the emergence of AB resistant strains of pathogens can be limiting their use in animal farming.
      A very promising corrective measure that has taken place recently, is FDA’s initiative in banning/limiting the use of such drugs as growth promoters in farming practices. According to Kuehn (2014), AB’s that are currently prescribed for treating bacterial infections in humans, can no longer be administered to animals, without the supervision of veterinarians, and the manufacturers of the drug are also required to mention in their labeling that the use of their product as growth enhancer is illegal. I really hope this initiative would help resolve the issue of AB resistance!

      Works Cited:

      Kuehn, B. M. (2014). FDA moves to curb antibiotic use in livestock. JAMA, 311(4), 347-348.

      Levy, S. B., FitzGerald, G. B., & Macone, A. B. (1976). Changes in intestinal flora of farm personnel after introduction of a tetracycline-supplemented feed on a farm. New England Journal of Medicine, 295(11), 583-588.

  • NorrisHuang 11:08 pm on October 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alberta, antibiotic-resistant, , contamination, , , , , Vancouver,   

    Escherichia coli on fresh produce 

    Escherichia coli (E. coli) are gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria that cause a great number of food-borne illnesses annually. For example, according to PHAC, there were 470 reported cases of E. coli O157:H7 infections in Canada in 2013, which was the third highest among all pathogenic bacteria. Although E. coli infection is often referred to as “hamburger disease”, these bacteria also contaminates fresh produce. Earlier this year (between March 13 and 31), there were several E. coli infections cases identified in Canada, majority (9 out of 12 cases) of which were reported in Alberta. More investigations by CFIA are underway, however, leafy greens are considered to be the most possible cause of infections. Depending on strains, consequences of E. coli infections vary. Most people suffer from stomach discomfort, diarrhea and vomiting. Those who are infected with pathogenic strains such as O157:H7 may develop more severe symptoms, such as kidney failure.

    In addition to bacterial contamination, a research done by a group of UBC researchers shows a concerning fact that 97% of E. coli isolated from leafy greens samples purchased from several farmers market in Vancouver were antibiotic-resistant. To be more specific, antimicrobial resistance of E. coli on fresh green, red, and romaine lettuce samples were evaluated. 58% of samples were resistant to amikacin, 48% were resistant to trimethoprim and 45% were trimethoprim-sufamethoxazole-resistant. Resistance to nalidixic acid, kanamycin, ampicillin, amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, cefoxitin, gentamicin and tetracycline were also found. Luckily, only 13% of samples were found to be contaminated with trace amount of E. coli and the microbiological quality of produce was acceptable according to Health Canada guidelines.

    You can read more about the 12 E. coli cases in Canada here: http://globalnews.ca/news/1942601/health-officials-suspect-e-coli-illnesses-linked-to-leafy-greens/

    The use of antimicrobial agent on food animal (e.g. chicken) is one possible cause of antibiotic-resistance in E. coli on fresh produce. Antimicrobial agent is used to promote growth of food animal. Nonetheless, only 10% of the drug would be absorbed by animals and the rest will be excreted. As the wastes are applied as fertilizers. Antibiotics are also introduced to the environment (e.g. soil, water) and vegetables. Antibiotics selects for drug-resistant bacteria on leafy produce, which leads to predominant of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Additionally, contaminated irrigation water, poor personal hygiene and inadequate food processing also adversely affect microbiological safety of greens.

    To protect ourselves from E. coli contaminations on vegetables, the following precautions can be taken:

    • Wash produce thoroughly before consumption
    • Clean and sanitize food-contact surfaces properly, including cutting boards, knifes, etc.
    • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap regularly during food handling
    • Keep raw meat and vegetables separated to avoid cross-contamination
    • Store food at refrigerating temperature (< 4 ͦC) to inhibit bacterial growth

    For more information about E. coli, see: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/fs-sa/fs-fi/ecoli-eng.php

    • Duncan 1:37 pm on October 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is a test of the blog’s comment system

    • Duncan 1:39 pm on October 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      This is a test of the blog’s comment system, take 2.

    • wen liao 2:51 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Haha this is like a very classical example about the effect of antimicrobial misuse as we have talked in class. I have also read similar articles talking about how the bacteria isolated from vegetables are resistant to one or multiple antimicrobials, which sounds quite scary to me, to be honest. However, although the issue with antimicrobial misuse has been prevalent for years and scientists have been addressing this problem at different scenarios, not very many people have taken it seriously. I have a friend who recently got flu, and his doctor prescribed him with antibiotics LOL….In addition although the stuff turkey season is almost gone, I till recall this news I read about how you should not wash store packaged turkey before you baked it in the oven. While wash the turkey with running water cannot remove the bacteria on the surface of the turkey skin, this action might spread the cells all over on the turkey causing more contamination. I don’t know if it would be the same case for your e. coli suggestions haha.

    • dgozali 9:07 pm on October 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I think your article brought up a very important issue of growing antimicrobial resistance. Its quite alarming that a large proportion of E. coli found on leafy greens are resistant as most people consume these vegetables raw and some might not even bother washing them as they’re often labelled as a “ready to eat” food. Hence this makes it much easier for people to get sick from consuming these products. This reminds me of the recent outbreak at UBC’s centenniel celebration where many people got sick from eating the produce from the UBC farm. Perhaps the microbes were resistant strains as well. Either way, this is an increasingly prominent issue that should be taken more seriously!

    • CindyDai 10:42 am on October 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      The increasing antimicrobial resistance of E. coli indicates the increasing difficulty of controlling E. coli in food industry. To protect our families, handling food safely is crucial to eliminate any E. coli survived the factory processing in leafy greens. In the original news, there are a few more useful tips from PHAC on safe food handling. I learned that we should always reheat leftovers until steaming hot before eating. Especially for leafy greens, we should always keep them refrigerated and only take them out of fridge right before consumption. When there are E. coli outbreaks, cooking vegetables is a better choice. Food safety is in our hands!

    • ya gao 9:00 pm on October 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      After reading this post, I think it is important for government agencies like CFIA to realize the presence of antimicrobial resistant strains of E. coli on leafy green products. Although only 13% of samples were found to be contaminated with trace amount of E. coli and the microbiological quality of produce was acceptable according to Health Canada guidelines, it is a serious problem once breaks out. Leafy green products are usually considered as ready to eat foods and people consume them without heat processing step. With the increasing problem of antimicrobial resistant strains of E. coli on ready to eat foods, food safety may be threaten. CFIA should find a way to resolve this problem by controlling the use of fertilizer from animal waste, as well as doing sample testing on leafy green products more frequently.

    • AngeliMalimban 6:11 pm on December 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I think it is interesting how people have a common misconception about how E. coli can only be found in raw beef. I remember my friend freaking out about my other friend preparing raw beef burgers, while she ate the salad that was from fresh produce. Could she have washed it well enough? Even then, it probably would still contain E. coli since it does not come out unless it is cooked.
      Salads are such a big fad in our society due to its nutritional value, but people should not be surprised if they get sick eating this. It’s also hard to cook vegetables because its nutritional value is best when raw, as most of the vitamins and minerals could dissolve in the water (if boiled) and let’s be real… it’s just SO much easier to eat vegetables raw so we do not have to go through the labour of cooking it!

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