Antibiotic Resistant Fresh Produce.

Antibiotic resistance spreads like fungi worldwide warns the World Health Organization. This class of drug used to treat common bacterial infections like strep throats once saved humanity from the ravages of tuberculosis and other death-rich epidemics in the 1950's. We can be grateful for their effectiveness, but too much of a good thing is bound to hurt you. You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain as a Batman villain once said.

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The Center For Disease Control estimates 20% of emergency room visits are due to adverse drug events from antibiotic resistance in the United States. The burden adds a modest $35B to the nation's healthcare cost.

The problem is that antibiotics nuke your entire microbial flora, good and evil, which allows resistant bacteria like C.difficile to grow and prosper to dominance. The more you take, the less likely your sensitive healthy microbes will survive, leaving you at the mercy of dangerous infections. The implications are alarming for children and older adults who are the primary recipients of these drugs.

So what drives this epidemic?

Overuse and misuse, for starters, as roughly 30% to 50% of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary: Conditions like bronchitis and the common cold caused by viruses, not bacteria, do not require the use of such medication, yet physicians prescribe them anyways.

Food production is another major player in the widespread of resistant bacteria, consuming 80% of all antibiotics made. The meat/dairy industry takes a lot of heat for their liberal use of medication for animals, but a recent study from the American Society For Microbiology sheds new light on the matter.

The study aimed at quantifying antibiotic-resistant bacteria in organic and conventional ready-to-eat food like fresh produce and dairy products purchased from local grocery stores throughout the San Fernando Valley in California.

“Dairy products were found to have very low levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, with yogurt samples tending to have the highest amount,” said one of the researchers involved in the project.

Both organic and conventional produce harbored on average 10,000 times more antibiotic-resistant bacteria than did dairy products, likely contaminated naturally by soil.

Photo Credit: American Society For Microbiology

Photo Credit: American Society For Microbiology

Traditional nutrition wisdom coins vegetables as the best defence against disease. Adults must eat anywhere between seven to ten servings of fresh produce a day to stay healthy according to the Canadian Food Guide. Will these findings radically alter how we look at our green heroes?

Shit will hit the fan once old foes like Tuberculosis and deadly diarrhea make a grand comeback to capitalize on our weakened immunities.

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