Food and Antibiotic Resistance: Should You Be Concerned About Eating Meat, Vegetables?
Food and antibiotic resistance (Photo Credits: File Image)

Antibiotic resistance is a phrase often used with antibiotic abuse. Pop too many bug-killing pills and your immunity goes for a toss. Although doctors were once prescribing antibiotics left, right and centre even for viral infections, these days, there is an increased awareness about evils of abusing the meds. Antibiotic resistance means the ability of the bacteria to withstand the effects of antibiotics. The effects can be devastating. Infections may become difficult to bring under control, increasing recovery time and fatalities. But overdoing medicines is not the only cause of antibiotic resistance. Food is a big source. Here’s what you should know. How to Take Antibiotic Medicines To Prevent Side Effects Like Diarrhoea.

Antibiotics and Animal-Based Food Products

While we are busy searching answers to antimicrobial resistance in antibiotic abuse, there’s an overlooked source of the problem – the meat and animal product industry. Overuse of antibiotics in farming and agriculture has exacerbated the problem. What is Antibiotic Resistance and How You Can Prevent It.

US and China are the largest users of antibiotics in the food product, and India isn’t too far behind. Pigs, poultry and bovines are plied with excessive antibiotics like penicillin and tetracycline to ward off dangerous diseases, especially since they are crammed in unhygienic conditions.

Due to the intense demand for meat, most animals like pigs and cows are artificially inseminated and are made to give birth multiple times in a year. Due to the low recovery time between births, the animals grow weaker. To boost their immune health, they are plied with more antibiotics. Antibiotics are also given to animals to speed up their growth for increased meat and milk production.

Antibiotics and Vegetables

While our paranoia about antibiotics in meat is valid, vegetables aren’t a safe option either. A Scientific American article detailed how traces of antibiotics are also found in vegetables like corn, cabbage, lettuce and potatoes.

Plants that are fertilised by manure sourced from livestock (who are fed antibiotics) end up having traces of the drugs in the vegetables. This means that even the ones with the “organic” tag are not safe.

How it Affects Human Health

Excessive antibiotic use inevitably causes antibiotic resistance in animals and plants. If the meat from the animals is not washed well or cooked thoroughly, the antibiotic-resistant bacteria then find their way into the human body. One can also get infected by the bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and E.coli, if you consume vegetables sprayed with the manure of the infected animal.

Should We Worry?

The thought of eating antibiotic-laced meat and vegetables is scary. But is it really? Science doesn’t fuel that paranoia though. Evidence suggests that there is no direct connection between antibiotics in food products.

One study showed that the risk of contracting the resistant bacteria from food is actually quite slim since heat destroys them. To minimise the risk, adequate cooking of meat products is a must. Wash your hands thoroughly, use separate utensils to prevent cross-contamination and opt for food that comes with the “antibiotic-free” label.