Antibiotics Are Losing Their Effectiveness. The Pork Industry Knows Why

black pigs against a metal wire fence in a factory farm CAFO

You probably don’t give antibiotics much thought—until you need them. But what happens if you need them, and they don’t work?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi cause more than 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. On average, someone in the U.S. gets an antibiotic-resistant infection every 11 seconds. And every 15 minutes someone dies.

One of the big reasons infections have grown resistant to antibiotics? Industrial factory farms—which use nearly 12 million pounds of medically important antibiotics every year to stave off diseases caused by filthy, crowded conditions, and (though they don’t like to admit it), to make animals grow faster.

Interviews conducted by CBS 60 Minutes reveal just how far the industrial pork industry, dominated by a handful of multinational corporations, will go to keep researchers and safety inspectors from learning the full extent to which the industry is jeopardizing public health—all while pretending to protect farmers.

The segment also revealed how every package of pork brought into a consumer’s kitchen contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Dr. Lance Price, a microbiologist at George Washington University and a leading expert in drug-resistant bacteria, told 60 Minutes:

“. . . these bacteria, we consume them with the meat. Those bacteria then get into our system and they cause infections. Then, the infections, because they’re already resistant to antibiotics, the doctors don’t have any antibiotics to treat those infections.”

Sure, you may be able to cook the pathogens out of the pork, Price said. But:

“The problem is that when you bring that package into your house you’re bringing a package, a raw package of meat. When you open that up, you have now just potentially released bacteria pathogens, potentially drug-resistant pathogens, into your kitchen.”

Read and watch: ‘Is Overuse of Antibiotics on Farms Worsening the Spread of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria?’

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: Healthy Farm Animals Shouldn’t Get Antibiotics that Sick People Need

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