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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bugs + Drugs

The Chicken Mafia learned a long time ago that they can make more money by feeding antibiotics to their factory flocks.  When you have 250,000 birds crammed through a chicken factory, the sniffles in one bird soon becomes a pandemic that ruins your profitability.

I previously Blogged about the smorgasbord of drugs fed to chickens so that the Chicken Mafia earn maximum profits. Here's an update.

A June 2011 Surveillance Bulletin from Public Health Canada warns of apparent cheating by the Chicken Mafia who are suspected of using ciprofloxin antibiotics in chicken.  PHC found a rising prevalence of ciprofloxin-resistant campylobacter in retail chicken sold in BC and Saskatchewan.  Campylobacter is the most common foodborne pathogen that causes gastroenteritis in Canadians.  Ciprofloxacin is a fluoroquinolone antimicrobial, which is considered very important to human medicine in the treatment of respiratory, urinary, gastrointestinal, skin and bone/joint infections.  These antimicrobials are not labelled for use in poultry in Canada. Health Canada requires that veterinary fluoroquinolone product labels include the following warnings:
  • Do not use in an extra-label manner in cattle or in any other species; 
  • To limit the potential development of antimicrobial resistance: Fluoroquinolone drugs such as Baytril 100/A180, should not be used indiscriminately.
  This Chicken Mafia cheating was discovered by the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS).  Public Health Canada says that:
"Expert opinion suggests that the trend noted in ciprofloxacin-resistant Campylobacter from chicken is associated with the extra-label use of enrofloxacin in broiler breeder flocks to treat Salmonella."
It is common industry practice for the Chicken Mafia to request that antibiotics be added to the chicken feed and/or the water supply for the birds.  Continuous dosing of low levels of antibiotics helps protect your Chicken Mafia profits, but has been shown to increase the risk of drug resistant bacteria developing.

But that is just a small miniscule risk, right?  Surely the government wouldn't let the Chicken Mafia create a Frankenstein monster in the hen house, right?  Don't be so sure.

CBC TV has a popular show called Marketplace who investigated this situation back in 2011. Two-thirds of the chicken was contaminated with bacteria, but all of the contaminated samples had at least one strain of bacteria that was found to be drug-resistant.

That means humans are surrounded by a growing mob of drug-resistant bacteria.  When we get sick, more and more of the bugs that make us sick cannot be treated by antibiotics.  The magic bullet can't be used.

A Feb 2011 Care2 article writes to over 367,000 people who have expressed an interest in "Real Food".  After reading the article, 491 people (as of 2013/08/27) expressed their opinion that 77% of them were less likely to buy antibiotic induced meats from a grocery store.  Combining the survey categories of  "leaning yes" and "yes", we have a total of 89% who were less likely to buy.


Another study in 2009 found that 80% of all kg. of antibiotics sold in the US goes to treat livestock and poultry.  Should we assume this is similar to Canada?

Of course, only a small fraction of people go to the Care2 website, so these conspiracy theory, aluminum foil hat crowd can be dismissed as "crackpots", at least that is likely how the Chicken Mafia see it.

Unfortunately, the Chicken Mafia isn't worried about these findings.

The Mafia Don (a.k.a. Chicken Farmers of Canada) isn't talking about this anymore.  If you go to CFC's website and do a search for "antibiotics" I got three hits to the search on 2013/08/27; two of which refer to files that have been removed from CFC's website.  Fortunately, CFC forgot to update their search index file, so we know what has been removed by them.  CFC isn't worried, they decided to stonewall and deny.  I wonder why?

Search results for "antibiotics" on CFC's website as of
13/08/27 11:50 AM EDT shows 3 hits, the first two have disappeared
and are no longer available for the public.  Why?
 The third hit for "antibiotics" directs us to CFC's Mission and Vision, where we find:

Our Vision

A Canadian chicken industry that satisfies consumer expectations with domestically produced chicken.
The central elements of this vision include:
...   [Other items deleted for our focus on antibiotics]
  • Innovative products and management practices that respond to a broader array of consumer expectations – for different market segments (most notably aging baby boomers and immigrant/ethnic populations); and for product quality, animal care, environment and antibiotics use.
So it appears that CFC realizes that the public has some expectations concerning antibiotics.  Whatever CFC thinks those expectations concerning "antibiotics", they don't want to say, for specifics are messy, and could get CFC in trouble with their members in the Chicken Mafia.

Will this limited awareness by CFC save us all from the "Bugs vs. Drugs" war?  Don't hold your breath.  If CFC was doing anything, or if they had accomplished anything, they would have blared the news far and wide.

There's nothing to see.  Move along.  Go back to sleep.  All is well.  Trust us.

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