Healthy and Safe Food

Antibiotics and Resistance

Share This Article:

Antibiotics are a type of antimicrobial medication used to fight or prevent bacterial infections in people and animals. Antimicrobial resistance develops when the bacteria develop the ability to survive exposure to the antibiotics used to treat infections caused by them. This problem makes the medication ineffective in stopping or slowing the growth of a specific disease-causing organism. It’s an important issue worldwide — resistant bacteria make it harder to fight human and animal infections effectively. Antimicrobial resistance is a natural phenomenon which can be made worse by environmental contamination, misusing antibacterial cleaning products, and using antibiotics in human or animal medicine too much or incorrectly. Health Canada has established four categories of antimicrobials, based on their importance to human medicine. They range from Category I (“very high importance”) to Category IV (“low importance”). Farmers need a veterinary prescription to buy any Category I, II, and III products to use in livestock or poultry, and using any of these products to promote growth is banned.
Better animal housing, nutrition, and health, mean that fewer antibiotics are used on farms today than in the past.

The bottom line:

Antibiotics are a valuable tool for treating sick people and animals, so it is important that everyone uses them responsibly. Resistance is a complex topic, and critically-important research into resistance is happening around the world in both human and animal medicine.

What are drug residues?

Drug residues are traces of medication left over in meat, milk, or eggs, after an animal has been treated. Every animal health product, like antimicrobials, vaccines or supplements, has what is called a “withdrawal period” — a specific amount of time a farmer must wait before sending a treated animal or its products to market. This buffer ensures that food is safe and free of residues. As an added layer of security, government staff working at processing plants also test the foodstuffs for these residues to ensure food safety.

Raw facts about raw milk

Milk that is raw has not been pasteurized, meaning that it could still contain harmful bacteria and other pathogens that can cause severe, or in some cases, fatal illness. It is illegal to sell raw milk or cream products in Canada (except for certain raw milk cheeses). All milk has to be pasteurized before being sold. Pasteurization means that the milk is heated to a high temperature, which kills bacteria, but does not affect its high quality. Milk is sampled and tested at every farm to ensure its safety and quality before being picked up by the milk truck. And every milk truckload is tested and graded again at the processing plant, so that if there’s a problem, the entire load is rejected and disposed of. It’s something dairy farmers and processors take very seriously. Food-borne illnesses Human and animal digestive systems are home to billions of bacteria, including some that can cause severe illness or even death if people consume contaminated food or water. Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes are the three most common causes of food-borne illness. Canada’s food producers and processors use many different tools to keep food free from pathogens that cause food-borne illness. Consumers have a role to play too: proper storage temperatures; cooking meats to proper temperatures; washing produce thoroughly; and washing hands regularly before handling food, after using the washroom, or after petting animals.