From e.coli in produce to serious contamination of our meat supply, there's little doubt that major outbreaks of food poisoning are a serious concern in our globalized, interconnected food system. Campaigners in the UK are now raising the alarm about a deadly new strain of salmonella that, they say, should cause a major rethink on intensive industrial agriculture.
Known as 'monophasic salmonella typhimurium', this new strain — which has been shown to transmit from pigs to humans both directly and along the food chain — is particularly likely to cause hospitalizations, is especially dangerous to the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and children, and is also exhibiting high levels of resistance to antibiotics.
The UK's premier organic organization, The Soil Association, has long been campaigning to stop American-style gigantic mega farms from being introduced in the UK. The emergence of this new strain of salmonella is, they say, one more reason to halt the move to ever more intensive farming, and to rethink the routine use of antibiotics:
Most monophasic salmonella from pigs are multiresistant to at least four families of antibiotics, but the long-feared development of resistance to modern cephalosporin antibiotics in salmonella has already been found as well on at least one British pig farm. The European Food Safety Authority has warned that resistance to these antibiotics could lead to treatment failures. They also warned that even the routine use of antibiotics such as tetracyclines, the most widely used antibiotics in pig feed, not only promotes resistance but also increases the spread and persistence in pigs of these resistant strains.