The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has released a report claiming that antibiotics used on farms “may be causing more serious pathogens in the nation’s food supply.”

Calling for increased scrutiny by the federal government, the January 25, 2011, report asserts that recording outbreaks of foodborne illnesses and subsequently testing the pathogens for antibiotic resistance “is a critical step if policymakers are to document the link between antibiotic use on farm animals and human illness from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

The consumer watchdog found that between 2000 and 2009, multi-drug resistance was found in 10 out of 14 antibiotic-resistant foodborne outbreaks. Of 35 documented outbreaks between 1973 and 2009, most involved raw milk, raw milk cheeses and ground beef. “Outbreaks from antibiotic resistant strains of Salmonella, though rare, cannot be ignored by our food safety regulators,” said CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal. “The problem has clearly emerged with respect to some high risk foods. Both humans and animals rely on antibiotics to stay healthy. But overuse in some sectors may squander their effectiveness and leave consumer[s] vulnerable to hard-to-treat foodborne infections.” See CSPI Press Release, January 25, 2011.