Antibiotics in Food. How to choose a safe food product

Most people are familiar with antibiotics as a medicine. Nowadays, it is hard to find a person, adult or child, who hasn’t taken antibiotics at least once in his life.

Antibiotics were invented over 70 years ago to save lives and fight deadly diseases, but they are also a powerful allergen and can cause irreparable damage to the body.

Nowadays, antibiotics are widely used in animal husbandry, poultry farming and fish farming.

Antibiotics are used to treat animals and birds as well as humans when they fall ill. Antibiotics are part of the so-called «growth hormones» To increase the rate of growth of livestock or poultry. If used improperly, they can get into milk, meat, and eggs.

Fish and seafood – This is a category of products that are literally bathed in antibiotics when grown under artificial conditions.

Antibiotics are used for heat treatment, sterilization, filtration in order to increase the shelf life in many technological processes in the manufacture of food products, which include milk and dairy products, meat, eggs, chicken, cheese, shrimp, and even honey.

Thus, it is clear that food products exposed to antibiotic contamination are exclusively animal, poultry and fish grown in artificial reservoirs. After administering antibiotics for a period until the antibiotic is eliminated from the body or its concentration drops below the acceptable limit, the animal may not be slaughtered in order to use its parts or whole as food. During the same period, it is also forbidden to use products from the animal (e.g., milk cannot be used even for processing – must simply be destroyed, usually poured into the ground, sewage, etc.). In case of non-compliance with regulations on the use of antibiotics they may be found in meat, milk, eggs, etc. (statistically they are found in 15-20% of all animal products).

In order to remove antibiotics from meat before slaughtering, the animal should be kept 7−10 days without antibiotics. It is important to know that if the drug is left in the body of the animal, it is found mainly in the liver and kidneys.

Antibiotic content decreases as a result of heat treatment of meat of animals and poultry, when the drug together with the muscle juice passes into the broth, part of the drug is destroyed by the action of high temperatures. Compared to the initial amount, between 5.9% (grisin in poultry meat) and 11.7% (levomycetin in poultry meat) of the antibiotics in the muscle tissue remain after cooking. About 70% of the original amount of antibiotics passes into the broth. Approximately 20% of the original amount of antibiotics is destroyed by boiling.

Boiling, sterilization, fermentation have practically no effect on the antibiotic content of milk and dairy products. After boiling, 90 to 95% of the original amount of antibiotics remains in the milk, that is, 5 to 10% of their amount is destroyed. After sterilization, 92 to 100% of the original amount of antibiotics remains in milk. These data allow us to draw conclusions about the unsuitability of boiling and sterilization parameters for the destruction of antibiotics in milk.

Due to the fact that the groups of antibiotics used in humans and animals in agriculture are the same, residual amounts of antibiotics in food contribute to the emergence of resistant strains in humans as well. Accordingly, people who consume such products develop an immunity to taking antibiotics, and increasingly stronger drugs are required to obtain the expected effect of treatment.

Under the influence of antibiotics, the body loses the ability to resist various infections on its own. And, in addition, their widespread use has led to the emergence of bacterial strains that are resistant to these drugs, and, in the end, a person may be unprotected against infections and microorganisms.

The presence of antibiotics in the body can cause severe allergic reactions accompanied by severe itching, rashes, and in rare cases – swelling. Allergic effects occur even when antibiotics are very low in the food. For the last 40 years, the number of people with allergic diseases has increased tenfold, especially among children.

Prolonged presence of antibiotics in the body may cause irritation of mucous membranes of the stomach, exacerbation of ulcerative and ulcerative states, imbalance of microflora in the intestines, disorders of the liver, kidneys, gall bladder, reactions of the nervous and circulatory systems in case of individual intolerance to antibacterial components.

Antibiotics from the body of a nursing woman can get into breast milk and cause weakening of the immune system and health problems in newborns.

Given the possible risk of harm to human health, legislation has established standards for the content of the most commonly used antibiotics in foods such as milk and dairy products, meat, including poultry, eggs and egg products: levomycetin, tetracycline group, streptomycin, penicillin, grisin, bacitracin. Their content in food products is not allowed (within the limits defined by the relevant methodologies), which is important for consumers to be aware of.

Rising resistance to antibiotics is reaching dangerously high levels worldwide. The range of drugs used in food industry now includes several dozen types of antibiotics and is constantly expanding, respectively, the content of many of them in food has not yet been regulated, and existing control measures can not determine the content of all used antibiotics in food.

This means that the responsibility for complying with the appropriate regulations on the use of antibiotics in agriculture rests entirely with the producer. However, due to the undeveloped (low) production culture, many producers, for the sake of increasing the profitability of production, do not comply with antibiotic regulations, because.к. At the very least, this requires the presence of personnel with special knowledge and skills; compliance with the necessary hygienic conditions in production, eliminating the need for disease prevention with antibiotics; destruction of food products containing antibiotics, etc.

The World Health Organization is therefore warning of the need for urgent action and Consumers International is calling for food companies to change their policies on antibiotics. Consumers have an important role to play in this process.

Although effective antibiotic control measures are in place, consumers should keep in mind that it is advisable to buy products of animal origin (meat, dairy products, eggs) from verified sellers and in authorized markets.

The sold products of animal origin shall be accompanied by the documents confirming their compliance with the regulatory requirements (unprocessed food products of animal origin – a document confirming veterinary and sanitary expertise, processed food products of animal origin – a declaration of conformity, meat and dairy products for baby food – certificate of state registration).

In addition, it should be noted that the carcass, half-carcass and quarter of the meat must bear a veterinary stamp; it is allowed to put an additional stamp of the commodity inspection mark. The following information must be specified in the shipping documentation for unpackaged slaughter products: type of meat of the productive animal from which slaughter product was obtained, name of the slaughter product, thermal condition of carcasses, half-carcasses, quarters and cuts («chilled», «Frozen»), the anatomical part of the carcass (for cuts); the slaughter products.

Dear Consumers! So, for today the possible way out of the current situation is to buy the products of animal origin (cattle meat, dairy products, eggs, poultry) from reliable manufacturers after a veterinary and sanitary expertise of raw materials.

Refrain from buying livestock, poultry, fish products of unsightly appearance and of dubious quality from unknown companies.

Refrain from buying the products in unsuitable places and premises: in the courtyard, from the trunk of the car, in the staircase, etc.

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