1954 was the year the public health battles went through a huge change.
1954 was the year Jonas Salk tested his injectable polio vaccine on thousands of children.
1954 was the year Roy Kroc opened his first McDonalds fast food restaurant in Des Plaines, Ill.
In 1954, 35,000 U.S. kids contracted polio leaving 20% of them with a permanent paralysis. In 1961 only 161 cases were reported in the U.S. and kids were allowed by their parents to go swimming at public beaches again.
In 1954 we already had penicillin, sulfa and tetracycline to battle bacterial infections, but we had nothing to prevent childhood viral infections.
In the following years, DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus) and MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccines became routine injections at well child check-ups, followed by vaccines for hepatitis, human papilloma virus, chicken pox and rotavirus.
The public health war against infectious diseases appeared to have been won.
The public health war against obesity, hypertension, heart disease and diabetes appeared to have just begun with the advent of fast food restaurants, less healthy eating habits and less exercise.
After all, it used to be mankind spent all day raising or searching for food. After 1954, one only had to invest enough energy to roll down a window and ask a voice on the speaker to “super-size” that order.
So what does this little lesson in public health history have to do with food safety, one might ask?
Maybe nothing, maybe a lot. It all depends on who you listen to.
CNN just recently had a story about antibiotics used in animals raised for food and fast food restaurant’s initiatives to reduce that use titled What Goes Into the Fast Food Meat You Eat.
The very first line reads: “Our favorite fast foods could come back to bite us, according to a report released Wednesday—and it’s not just the extra calories.”
You can read the report for yourself at: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/27/health/fast-food-antibiotics-grades/index.html
The report was authored by individuals representing six public interest groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Consumers Union and the Center for Food Safety. You know, the usual animal agriculture bashing folks that want us to go vegetarian.
They sent surveys to the top 25 fast food corporations asking what they were doing to decrease the use of antibiotics in animals raised for food.
Eleven of the 25 got an “F” grade.
Nine did not even respond.
Only two received an “A” and you can guess who they were. Yep, Chipotle and Panera Bread, who promise that all their poultry and meat products are raised without antibiotics (when they can find a supplier).
Most improved award goes to KFC, jumping from an “F” last year to a “B-“ this year after committing to phase out medically important antibiotics in its chicken suppliers by the end of 2018. Well DUH, not hard to do as Tyson Foods and Perdue Family Farms have already gone medically important free along with many others.
Earning a “B” were Subway, Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell. They are working to reduce antibiotic use in chicken, but not promising anything for their beef and pork products. Could that be related to the supply chain by chance?
Who got an “F”? DQ, Olive Garden, Applebee’s, Sonic, Cracker Barrel, Chili’s, Arby’s, Domino’s, Little Caesars, IHOP and Buffalo Wild Wings
The report talks a lot about antibiotic resistant being a growing concern in the human health field, but mentions nothing about antibiotic resistance developing in veterinary medicine.
The report also provides no link between antibiotic use in animals, and human mortality from health care institution acquired infections like Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA) and Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE).
It does point out that “the vast majority of these drugs used in animals are tetracyclines.”
If one were to go to medical school, one would learn that that tetracyclines are seldom prescribed for use in human medicine any more, the leading reasons for prescribing that class of antibiotic being Lyme Disease and Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted venereal disease.
The report also says that the recent Food & Drug Administration ban on medically important antibiotics used as growth promoters does not go far enough to “stop the misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture.”
Misuse, sub-therapeutic, low dose are all describers used to paint farmers in a bad light, yet the use of antibiotics to control or prevent disease in flocks and herds is done according to FDA guidelines and in doses approved by the FDA for just that purpose.
It is not a “misuse” of these antibiotics.
So does fast food really become a killer of humans, not only for the extra calories and lack of fresh veggies and fruit, but also because of killer bacteria resistant to antibiotics? (No, I don’t count French fries loaded with salt as a fresh veggie.)
Well, since most of the really serious antibiotic resistant bacteria are acquired during a visit to a health care facility and undergoing an invasive procedure, I guess the authors would also recommend avoiding those facilities at all cost also.
Except maybe to dine in their cafeterias.