Can antiobiotics used in cattle transfer into humans when we eat their meat?

29 May 2012

Question

As I understand, there are some concern with too much antibiotics being used in cattle and so on. My question is, can those antibiotics carry over to humans particularly if the meat is cooked? In other words, those cooking in the meat from an animal that's had a bit much antibiotics, does the cooking destroy the antibiotic, or make ineffective in humans, so as we don't inadvertently give the bacteria opportunity for resistance?

Answer

Paul - A lot of antibiotics are heat labile so they're destroyed by the cooking process but often now, there's a lot more regulation in terms of using antibiotics and in veterinary medicines so there's no overlap with human antibiotics or as little as possible. Chris - What about the implication of using antibiotics in terms of, it's not just this country but, other countries often put antibiotics into their animals? What are the implications for resistance and the spread of resistant organisms into humans because of that practice? Paul - There is a lot of evidence to suggest that some of the antibiotic resistant Staphylococci acquired the resistance mechanisms from related organisms that were found in cattle, possibly due to the use of antibiotics in those animals. However, there's been a lot tighter regulation across the world now, as people realise that this was a possible outcome.

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