Researchers from the University of California in Davis (UCD) said as far back as 1951 that the use of powerful antibiotics as growth-promoting hormones in livestock meant for human consumption increased the incidence of antibiotic-resistant coliform bacteria, which could pose a very real threat to us. They gave the specific example of streptomycin, which was, and still is, widely used to make turkeys grow faster. However, dangerous forms of the streptomycin-resistant coliform bacteria are beginning to be found more and more often, in the meat coming from these animals and destined to be sold on shelves around the US.
According to the UCD science team, the 20 million pounds of antibiotics that are pumped into healthy animals each year in the United States account for more than 70 percent of the total amount of antibiotics used in the country. This means, they say, that the finds should raise some serious alarm signals for public health care officials, who should begin to investigate this matter in more depth as fast as possible. Despite the half a century that passed since the study came out, and the hundreds of others that followed, no concrete measures were taken by authorities to at least investigate these allegations, LiveScience
Recently, health experts from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore, and the Pew Charitable Trusts, have called for a gradual, but complete, withdrawal of all forms of antibiotics used as growth-promoting factors. They have also said that the entire US industrial-scale animal growth and harvesting model needs to be reshaped from its roots, as it currently offers the ideal spawning ground for new and devastating forms of bacteria.
For example, the bacteria strain Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), alongside other microorganisms invulnerable to regular antibiotics, is currently reaching epidemic proportions in America, infecting numerous hospital patients. Ironically, hospital equipments are the preferred hangout place for these dangerous bacteria, which only attack people with an already damaged immune system. Because of their nature, they're extremely difficult to get rid of.
In the research, the Pew team share, they were met with hostility by industry officials, and threatened with a cut in funding to their respective universities. Producers argued that eliminating antibiotics would cause the spread of bacteria such as E.coli, and would drive food prices up, but the researchers said that bacteria only appeared because of the cramped-up conditions in which the animals were bred, with no light or room to move.