Science Cafe: Superbugs
Our Farm-to-Fork Food Safety
Drug-resistant bacteria sicken more than two million and kill at least 23,000 humans annually. These numbers are likely to grow as more germs develop resistance to antibiotics. Each time an antibiotic is misused, it gives any resistant bacteria the chance to grow and multiply. But doctor’s offices and hospitals are not the only breeding grounds for this dangerous health threat. Livestock farms use 80% of the U.S. antibiotics supply to keep animals from getting sick and to help them grow larger. Though their prolific use of antibiotics might make the food industry seem like the best place to wage the fight against antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” molecular epidemiologist Sid Thakur says it is important not to lay the blame on animals alone.
About Our Speaker
Dr. Sid Thakur, an Associate Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University, seeks to understand how antimicrobial resistance develops in “superbugs” that affect animal and human health. His research focuses on multi-drug-resistant pathogens such as Salmonella and Campylobacter and their influence on food safety. A recent investigation involves transmission of foodborne pathogens from food animals to fresh produce farms. He has authored or co-authored 30 peer-reviewed publications and is currently editing a book on pre-harvest food safety for the American Society for Microbiology. He is the chair of the International Association for Food Protection Pre-Harvest Food Safety professional development group, and serves on the Journal of Food Protection management committee.
Photo: Salmonella, CC Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH