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Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria: Campylobacter

Tyson Foods Fined and Headed for Court
By Anai Rhoads

Non-vegetarians have recently discovered that their favourite meals - that which included meat and poultry, have possibly led them on a path of undesirable consequences.

The poultry market has been one of the most rapidly growing sectors in America's food industry. Poultry, particularly when kept in a crowded conditions, are susceptible to disease. Originally thought as a wise idea, the FDA allowed use of antibiotics to prevent the spread of illness to humans and to protect the poultry from early demise before processing.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine  (PCRM)  announced last week that they plan to launch an advertisement campaign against Tyson Food, Inc.

The Natural Born Killers campaign [1] will be designed to attract attention to the alleged poor practices of America's largest poultry factory. Based in Arkansas, Tyson Foods is responsible for over 5 million daily slaughters of chickens.

Tyson administered Baytril [2], a drug of the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG, to two tenths of a percent of the 2.1 billion (just over 4 million) broiler chickens produced last year for human consumption.

Baytril is at the epicentre of controversy as it has been most closely linked to cases of antibiotic resistance. The routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock may prevent illness to humans, but the downside is the increase of antibiotic resistant illnesses contracted from the food.

Campylobacter [3] bacteria is commonly found in chickens, resulting in bouts of diarrhoea. Seemingly harmless to most, it can kill those with weak or impaired immune systems, the elderly and small children.

Fluoroquinolones [4] are used to treat the bacteria. The infamous fluoroquinolone Cipro was used for the anthrax cases during late 2001. Baytril belongs to this same class as Cipro but differ slightly in its molecular makeup.

Bayer has stated that the use of Baytril in poultry does not weaken treatment of Campylobacter [5]. However disputed, the FDA [6] reported a rise during the late 1990s in the number of cases of people infected with fluoroquinolone resistant Campylobacter.

According to the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) [7], from 146,000 to 190,000 cases of foodbourne illness of the resistant type are reported annually. Agency officials estimate that at least 5,000 Americans may have compromised health as a result of the drugs given to poultry and other farm animals that they consumed. Cases of resistance have risen from 13.3% in 1998 to 17.6% in 1999 alone.

If this news was not worrying enough, Tyson was fined $59,274.00 by the United States Labour Department for violating child labour provisions of the Fair Labour Standards Act in October of 1999. The discovery of underaged workers at the Arkansas factory came about when a 15 year old male was accidentally electrocuted while working past midnight as a 'chicken catcher'. [8]

The PCRM is filing a lawsuit in California this week charging the poultry giant with deceptive marketing practices. Tyson's claims [9] of a heart healthy food is stirring controversy within the medical community, as the manufacturer has done little to prevent levels of antibiotic resistant foodbourne pathogens in its products. Hopefully, this will prove to an insightful campaign - one that may alter the perceptions of current meat and poultry consumers.

Copyright 2002 Anai Rhoads. All Right Reserved.

Natural Born Killers Campaign

Baytril in Poultry

FDA/CFSAN Fact Sheet

NOOH for Poultry Fluoroquinolones

[5]  Bayer Contests FDA Decision to Withdraw Fluoroquinolone Poultry Products

The FDA's Antibiotic Resistance From Down On The Chicken Farm

FDA Planning To Halt Ag Use of Two Antibiotics

Arkansas Factory Farms Fact Sheet provided by the Sierra Club.

Tyson Foods, Inc. Responds To Initial FDA Report For further information, contact Corporate Public Relations Manager Ed Nicholson at (479) 290-4591

Other useful links:  Tyson Foods Rap Sheet Isolation, Identification, and Enumeration of Campylobacter Jejuni/coli from Meat and Poultry Products
PDF format. Requires Acrobat.

No Beef-Lamb-Pork

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health.  We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice.  We, personally, have found that a vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found.   Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body.  If you have a health problem, see your own physician.

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