Consumer Reports does not provide any detailed data to support its assertions.
Consumer Reports’ much-promoted “report” on meat and antibiotic resistance provides no new information of value to consumers beyond the fact that there are a wide variety of safe choices available on the marketplace for consumers to select, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) said Wednesday in a response to Consumer Reports’ latest article on its antibiotics series.
It’s likely no coincidence Consumer Reports posted a new antibiotics story on its website in the midst of the first-ever World Antibiotics Awareness Week Nov. 16-22 which aims to increase awareness of global antibiotic resistance and encourage best practices.
As NAMI has pointed out in response to Consumer Reports’ previous tests of meat and poultry cited in this story, it is nearly impossible to draw conclusions on antibiotic resistance and its relationship to production methods because Consumer Reports does not provide any detailed data to support its assertions, NAMI officials said in a statement it released Wednesday.
“It is disappointing that Consumer Reports continues to perpetuate myths about ‘superbugs’ on meat and poultry products,” Betsy Booren, Ph.D., NAMI vice president of scientific affairs, said. “Bacteria develop resistance in nature in response to a variety of threats. Just because bacteria are resistant to one or more antibiotics does not mean they are superbugs and this is a fact that has been affirmed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“More meaningful information would indicate whether pathogenic bacteria are resistant to certain types of antibiotics, but Consumer Reports has never shared this information publicly,” Booren said.
The Consumer Reports article said, “… nowhere are the [antibiotic] drugs more inappropriately employed than in the meat and poultry industries. About 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to animals raised for food – including hogs, cattle, chickens and turkeys.”
Pork and beef industry officials have said the often-quoted 80 percent figure is erroneous.
“The most recent data from the Food and Drug Adminstration show that more than 32 million pounds of antibiotics were sold for use in food animals in the U.S. in 2013 – up 17 percent from just four years earlier,” the Consumer Reports article continued. “Recently, several meat and poultry producers, such as Tyson, and restaurant chains, like McDonald’s and Subway, have pledged to reduce the production or sale of meat or poultry from animals raised with antibiotics.”
In addition to Consumer Reports’ recent articles on antibiotic use in livestock, NAMI also took issue with a recent American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) report that cited “overuse” of antibiotics in animal agriculture as a major cause of antimicrobial-resistant infections in humans.