They point out that US livestock producers uses a staggering 32.2 million pounds of antibiotics in 2012 (the last year for which data exist) – more than four times the amount used to treat people.
Fully 60 percent of the those farm-dispensed drugs ‘are considered to be important in human medicine’ they add.
This annual bombardment of farm antibiotics they show kills susceptible bacteria and allows resistant ones to proliferate.
Of the Salmonella that commonly show up in the US meat supply – 5 percent are are resistant to 5 or more classes of antibiotic drugs—and 3 percent can withstand ceftriaxone – the ‘first-line therapy for salmonellosis in pediatrics’ the authors note.
Paulson and Zaoutis then run through the various ways these superbugs move off of farms and threaten people.
‘Increasingly food animals are raised in large numbers under close confinement – transported in large groups to slaughter and processed very rapidly’ they write.
‘These conditions can cause increased bacterial shedding and contamination of hide – carcass and meat with fecal bacteria’.