News Release: Little is Known of Dangerous Resistant Bacteria

DATE: June 26, 2006

 

LITTLE IS KNOWN OF DANGEROUS RESISTANT BACTERIA
DATA GAPS MUST BE FILLED AS FOOD PRODUCTION EVOLVES

ORLANDO—Surveillance data on the transfer of resistant bacteria from food to humans are inadequate and much more must be gathered to determine how antimicrobial treatments during food production may affect human infections. This according to the international nonprofit Institute of Food Technologists and its latest Expert Report, Antimicrobial Resistance: Implications for the Food System.

“The scope of information needed is enormous,” says Michael P. Doyle, Ph.D., chairman of the IFT expert panel that wrote the report. “The safety of food is challenged worldwide by emerging pathogens and their ability to cause illness in people.”

According to the report, there are no certain figures for the actual use of antibiotics in human medicine or in food production. It is unknown how much antimicrobials are used in food production in other countries, and how much is used on food imported to the United States. Furthermore, information on resistant bacteria associated with foods imported to the United States is also scarce. Currently, very little data exist on resistant bacteria associated with raw fruits and vegetables, and that data are inconsistent.

“The availability of antibiotics has radically improved human and animal well-being. Paradoxically, it has also brought antibiotic resistance to bacteria, threatening the very treatments meant to ensure product and human safety,” he says.

IFT urges the continued prudent use of antimicrobials and antibiotics in food animals and on plants, even as guidelines for their application in the food production system evolve.

This is the fourth Expert Report commissioned by IFT and funded by the nonprofit IFT Foundation, following the release of Functional Foods (2005), Emerging Microbiological Food Safety Issues (2002) and Biotechnology and Foods (2000). It was released at the IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo® in Orlando, the world’s single largest annual scientific meeting and technical exposition on food.