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Death lurks about the cutting board: Kitchens could be sources of drug-resistant bacteria, experts warn

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/18/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Utensils used to cut poultry could be breeding grounds for germs

There's a killer lurking undetected in many ordinary kitchens, experts warn. Cutting boards used to prepare raw poultry may be an important source of drug-resistant bacteria in both hospital kitchens and private homes, a new study warns.

Ironically, the cutting board -- and NOT the knife, represents the greatest threat to health and safety, experts say.

Ironically, the cutting board -- and NOT the knife, represents the greatest threat to health and safety, experts say.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
4/18/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Cutting boards, gloves, drug resistant, immune


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The more the bacteria is exposed to antibiotics, the higher the chance they will develop resistance to the drugs. In turn the unnecessary exposure can occur to humans who take antibiotic drugs they have no use for. Large numbers of livestock given feed laced with antibiotics to helps them grow faster and larger.

According to the World Health Organization, 75 percent of antibiotics sold are destined for use in animals.

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Drug-resistant bacteria originating from both humans and animals can then cause infections, which are harder to treat than infections caused by non-resistant bacteria.

The issue that cutting boards were contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria is troubling -- but is not surprising.

"If other foods go on those boards before the boards get cleaned, or even after they're cleaned if the cleaning isn't 100 percent effective, the other foods, which may not get cooked, or not as thoroughly as poultry, likely would get contaminated and so could possibly pose an even higher risk of transmission to humans than the poultry products themselves," Dr. James R. Johnson, an infectious diseases researcher at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System in Minnesota, said in an email.

The study took place in Europe, where growth-promoting antibiotics for animals are banned. However, antibiotics can still be used in livestock "therapeutically." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has since announced the first move to phase out growth-promoting antibiotics in animals processed for meat in late 2013.

In the study, Dr. Andreas F. Widmer of University Hospital Basel in Switzerland along with his colleagues collected the cutting boards and used gloves from their hospital's kitchen for 16 months. The hospital prepares meals for 650 patients daily, as well as for the hospital's staff.

They also collected cutting boards from kitchens in private homes in Switzerland, France and Germany. The boards were swabbed for bacteria after the boards were used to prepare food and before they were cleaned.

Ten of the 154 cutting boards taken from the hospital kitchen tested positive for a type of drug-resistant E. coli bacteria.

There was probably more bacteria in the hospital because hospital kitchens process much more meat than household kitchens, experts said.

"These E. coli are resistant to some of the last good drugs we have to treat them," Lance B. Price, who was not involved in the European study, says.

"The 'nightmare superbug' is just one step further than these," Price, who studies antibiotic resistance at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., says.

Half of the used gloves from the hospital also tested positive for drug-resistant bacteria, indicating that gloves and cutting boards could be sources of bacteria transmission, the authors write.

They recommend food service workers and home cooks be vigilant about washing their hands not only after handling meat, but also after handling used cutting boards.

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