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Antibiotic drugs in meat from China serious threat to health, report finds

This summer, when the FDA called the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in meat animals a serious threat to public health, I had to wonder what the threat would be to the animals the drugs were administered to and to the pets that ate the antibiotic laden meat in pet food?

Today, while researching contaminated animal feed supplement pre-mixes from China that several large U.S. pet food manufacturers have been accused of using, I came across a deeply troubling report from China. I was haunted by the impression it left me with, and of the tiny premature infant born weighing barely 1 1/2 pounds, the size of a kitten.

According to the article, half of all antibiotics in China are fed to animals; and just as in the U.S., antibiotic resistance in the Chinese population has increased dramatically in recent years.

When a little girl in Guangdong province of China was born prematurely weighing 1 1/2 pounds –  the size of an average rutabaga – she was already resistant to seven types of antibiotics. The treatment of the little girl was therefore a special challenge for physicians, China’s People’s Daily reported.

Large amount of drugs in meat and eggs

It is suggested that the cause of this antibiotic resistance is because the mother during her pregnancy ate meat and eggs that contained large amounts of antibiotic residues.

Industrial animal feed often contains large amounts of antibiotics, hormones and other drugs which livestock and poultry farmers use to protect the animals from possible infections and diseases.

No control

In the report,  about half of the farmers said they have mixed antibiotics and drugs in the feed by hand –  a little of this and a little of that – making up whatever they thought was enough to keep their animals healthy.

Because the farmers mixed the antibiotics simply by feel, most of them lack an understanding of a how much the animals are actually consuming and it what dosages, exceed the approved standard for antibiotics.

Excessive doses of drugs

The use of excessive doses or inappropriate medications causes drug residues in animals and endanger the health of consumers of animal products. Because of the indiscriminate use of veterinary drugs, “it has led to an antibiotic resistance in people in China that is worse than in other countries”, said Professor Xiao Yonghong, who is leading an expert group within the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Beijing University.

U.S. pets face a similar fate

Thus, when U.S. pets consume the drug laden poultry imported from China in the form of dehydrated poultry treats, the same health problems that are occurring in humans in China occur in pets in the U.S. Problems such as antibiotic resistance and possible allergies associated with one the drug residues.

Because no one can be certain of the long-term effects of pets consuming meat contaminated with multiple drugs, therefore it would be wise to avoid all poultry and meat products imported from China.

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and advisor to AAFCO. Help support her work by making a donation today.

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