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Marg Van Nynatten
Resistance vs Residues – what’s the difference?
Residues are traces of medication left over in the meat or milk of an animal that has been treated with a medication. Every animal health product (e.g. antimicrobials, vaccines, supplements) has a withdrawal period, or a speci c amount of time a farmer must wait before sending a treated animal or its products to market. This procedure ensures that no residues are in your food. Resistance, on the other hand, is not linked to residues at all; it means that a particular antimicrobial is becoming less effective at treating or preventing disease.
Antibiotics are a go-to tool in modern medicine, so it is important they are used responsibly to ensure that we can continue to treat sick humans and animals successfully. Resistance is a complex topic, and critically important research into resistance is also ongoing in both human and animal medicine.
Animal and human health issues in the spotlight
Animal and human diseases like in uenza, Escherichia coli (E. coli) and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) are
things farmers take very seriously. The food and farming sector has invested millions of dollars into research, prevention, and emergency preparedness, and continues to do so to ensure that Canadians have the safest food and the healthiest animals possible. Public health agencies and groups specializing in animal disease surveillance are always tracking, and are on the watch for diseases. This is a key reason why you must always report contact with farms and farm animals when returning to Canada from another country.
Diseases are always emerging. Here are three that have been making headlines in the last few years:
1 In uenza
2 (E. coli)
3 Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED)
In uenza – commonly called the  u – makes many Canadians sick every year. Birds and pigs can also be affected by what the media calls “bird  u” or “swine  u”. You can’t catch bird or swine  u from eating pork, eggs, chicken, or turkey.
You should always, however, follow safe food handling practices, and cook meats thoroughly.
There are particularly aggressive strains of bird or avian  u, such as H5N1 and H7N9, which can affect humans. However, people must be in very close contact
with live birds that are sick, in order to become infected. In some parts of Asia, for example, where humans  rst contracted these strains of bird  u, it’s common
for people to live in close contact with their chickens, and to buy live chickens
at markets. However, even under those circumstances, it is extremely rare to contract bird  u.
The digestive systems of all animals and humans are home to billions of essential bacteria, including E. coli. Most don’t make healthy people sick, but some types of E. coli can cause severe illness, or
even death. Canada’s food processors use various methods to keep food free from
E. coli. Consumers also have a role to play in prevention, by ensuring that meats are cooked to their proper temperatures, washing produce thoroughly, and cleaning hands regularly with soap and water before handling food, and after
PED is a disease that affects pigs, but has no impact on human health, or on the quality of pork. It is usually fatal to piglets, but older pigs normally recover if they become sick. PED is an example of a livestock disease whose risk can be minimized by following good farm biosecurity practices, such as limiting visitors in and out of barns.
using the washroom or petting animals.
Milk is labelled and sampled from every farm before it’s put in the milk truck. This process ensures that each tank of milk meets strict government quality standards. In addition to farm samples, every milk truckload is tested at the processing plant. If there’s a problem with the milk, the entire load is rejected and the farmer deemed responsible can be  ned – and may potentially lose his or her legal right to produce milk. It is something that farmers take very seriously.
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