According to Alesia Soltanpanah, Executive Director of World Animal Protection, in a November 2019 article, 70% of the world’s antibiotics are used on farm animals. What does this mean? It creates an overuse of antibiotics, which ultimately leads to the uprising of superbugs entering the environment and our food supply.

Antibiotics are used in humans to treat infections, such as strep throat, skin infections, bronchitis, acne, and many more. Animals raised on farms may receive doses to treat stressed or injured animals to keep them from getting sick.

Regular use of antibiotics in both humans and adults lowers the ability to fight infection or bacteria. Not only do our bodies become used to antibiotics if we are taking them consistently, but bacteria begin to outsmart the drugs. Think of it as evolution. Bacteria change to fight against the medicine to survive. As the bacteria evolve, they become stronger, hence the name superbugs. As superbugs advance, there is no longer a solution to stop them.

While the use of antibiotics for growth is no longer allowed in the U.S., farms are using the drugs to prevent the spread of disease and keep them healthy before animal slaughter. In large, crowded farms, environments are hostile for the spread of bacteria, which, if not monitored, could lead to significant financial loss to farmers.

CNN reported, The World Health Organization calls the development of bacteria that can’t be killed by some of our current medicines, “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.”

Antibiotic use is becoming a global epidemic that has the potential to kill 10 million people by the year 2050. Currently, in the United States, there are over 35,000 people that die from antibiotic-resistant infections and 2.8 million occurrences of these types of diseases.

As farms continue to use antibiotics to keep animals healthy, superbugs are created. Even after the animal has been processed for meat, the bacteria stays with them. When we consume undercooked meat or even veggies that were exposed to contaminated irrigation water, we expose our bodies to the bacteria.

One of the primary sources of antibiotic chicken and beef in America is fast-food chains. The 2019 Scorecard for restaurants approach for their approach to responsible antibiotic use in beef supplies rated the following establishments as an F- Burger King, DQ, Jack In the Box, Pizza Hut, Olive Garden, Chili’s, Sonic, Applebee’s, Domino’s, Little Caesars, Starbucks, IHOP, Panda Express, and Arby’s. The only chains receiving an A included Chipotle and Panera Bread.

Beef is considered a higher risk than chicken due to work done in the past five years. The commitments for antibiotic-free chicken in 2019, includes Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Domino’s, Dunkin Donuts, Jack In the Box, McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, Starbucks, Wendy’s and Taco Bell.

It is not uncommon to find bacteria in meat, and why it is highly stressed to not eat raw or undercooked food such as meat and eggs. However, while it is not uncommon, research by non-profit World Animal Protection (WAP) recently called out Walmart for the number of bacteria found in their pork products that were resistant to at least one antibiotic.

Soltanpanah told Newsweek, “The presence of multi-drug resistant bacteria on pork produce illustrates the role the pork supply chain plays in the global health crisis caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The fact that pork purchased from several Walmart stores, one of the nation’s largest retailers, contains bacteria resistant to antibiotics critically important to human health is particularly alarming and should raise concerns for all Walmart customers.”

WAP is calling for better care for pigs raised on farms for our food supply. The new research shows there is a need for improvement and intervention in the pork industry.

Takeaways:

-Our health is directly connected to the food we consume.

-Bacteria are becoming smart and changing their makeup to mask themselves from the human body’s immune system and antibiotics.

-Bacteria and Superbugs are a growing concern internationally.

Read: Walmart Pork Products Containing Superbugs Resistant to Critically Important Antibiotics Discovered.

Read: America’s Biggest Restaurant Chains Scored On Their Antibiotic Use

Read: Shapeshifting Bacteria Change Form to Avoid Detection of Antibiotics