The Amateur Food Detective

The Amateur Food Detective
Bluebird Acres Farm in Friendship, NY

Monday, April 9, 2012

What Came First, the Chicken or the Fluoroquinolone?


Interesting latest news. Even more interesting, you have to really search to find it. I was doing routine research on poultry and beef when I came across something of which I feel everyone should be aware.
Poultry farmers used to feed an antibiotic called fluoroquinolone to chickens and turkey. It was used to protect the animals from E. coli infections. In 2005 the FDA banned the use of fluoroquinolone for reasons I will clarify in a moment. A recent study at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and Arizona State University discovered evidence that this banned product still exists in some of the poultry we are ingesting, and it has caused quite a stir among researchers and their peers.
Here’s what you need to know about fluroquinolone:
1)   It’s used to treat bacterial infections in humans (in familiar drugs such as Cipro, Proquin, Penetrex, and Levaquin).
2)   In humans it’s used to treat a variety of stomach ailments, including foodborne disease.
3)   It either kills bacteria or prevents their growth and is used both in hospitals and for the general public with a prescription.
4)   They are generally not used for children because it’s been shown to create bone development problems in young animals.
5)   Side effects include but are not limited to: seizures, tendon rupture or swelling of connective tissue, intestine infection, nerve damage, heart rhythm changes, sensitivity to sunlight, and skin rashes.
The FDA banned this drug because scientific evidence concluded that when fluoroquinolone-laced food is introduced into human bodies, it can cause fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter infections.
“The FDA's rough estimate, using 1999 data, is that use of fluoroquinolones in chickens resulted in over 11,000 people that year contracting a strain of the campylobacter illness that was resistant to fluoroquinolones, contributing to unnecessarily severe disease.” –PBS.org
In other words, it created antibiotic resistance in some people. Not a good thing if you’re battling salmonella poisoning. At first, the FDA recommended farmers stop using fluoroquinolone for their poultry, but it soon became evident that many poultry farmers did not feel the research was strong enough for them to comply. Eventually, the FDA determined a ban would be the only way to prevent farmers from using fluoroquinolone.
But now it seems a ban is not enough.
Let me give you a little history on the John Hopkins study. First of all, it was conducted because scientists wanted to see what types of drugs are being used for poultry. Secondly, it was performed on chicken and turkey from both the U.S. and China, and they examined feather meal for the study. As an aside, they also found these drugs in the birds as well: antihistamine diphenhydramine, acetaminophen, caffeine, and the antidepressant fluoxetine. Apparently we are eating sleepy, depressed chickens that have bad allergies. Here’s some reason for this find: “Poultry growing scientists have recommended using Benadryl, Tylenol and Prozac to reduce anxiety in chickens, because stressed chickens grow slower and have tougher meat. Chickens are fed coffee pulp and green tea powder to keep them awake so they can spend more time eating. Arsenic is fed to poultry to fight infections and turn the meat a more appetizing shade of pink.”-Themedifastplan.com
Please note that the National Chicken Council wants to remind us that “the study looked at feathers, not meat…there is no immediate health concern,” and that the USDA tests meat for chemical and antimicrobial residues.
Of course, they neglect to “remind” us that this feather meal is added to the food chickens, fish, cattle in pigs eat. It’s also used as fertilizer on farms. So these drugs are getting into all our food supply. Perhaps not in large doses, and I have found no research that can prove it’s doing any harm used in this manner. But I put it out there for you to decide for yourself.
So here’s what you need to know. First off, there might be traces of the drug fluoroquinolone in the poultry your family is consuming. It’s been banned by the FDA because researchers have determined it has caused antibiotic resistance in humans. This drug also has many serious side effects including skin rashes and tendon rupture. On the flip side, the FSIS (USDA) tests meat for contaminants. See this site to know what companies have violated the chemical residue policies: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/science/chemistry/index.asp#NRP
Here’s what I’m thinking: some poultry farmers are continuing to use fluoroquinolone. Could be that they’re only using it on the hens that lay eggs. Or, it could be, as New York Times Op-Ed writer Nicholas D. Kristof mentions in his article, that farmers don’t realize what’s in the feed they’re giving their animals.
Here is the refuting statement given by www.uspoultry.org in its entirety:
TUCKER, GA – The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association released the following statement on the recent Feather Meal report published by the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. “The U.S. commercial poultry industry does not use fluoroquinolones and has not since they were banned in 2005 by the FDA for poultry. In fact, ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin, and ofloxacin found in this study – albeit at extremely low levels – have never been used in the U.S. commercial poultry industry. The fact that they are evident in this study calls into question the source of the feather meal that was tested, potential cross-contamination with other products, and ultimately the scientific objectivity of the research since it implies continued use of fluoroquinolones that were never used by the poultry industry in the first place,” remarked Dr. John Glisson, DVM, Director of Research Programs for U.S. Poultry & Egg
Association.

You decide for yourself. Meantime, I’ll be keeping an eye out for what happens next.
http://www.themedifastplan.com/main/factory-chickens-eat-feather-meal-laced-with-banned-antibiotics/
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120405131431.htm
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/opinion/kristof-arsenic-in-our-chicken.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

18 comments:

  1. Jacquelin MatthewsMay 15, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    wow really wow.....I suffer from fluoroquinolone toxicity and have been trying to work on healing for 2 years. Thank you for taking the time to do this research

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  2. I'm sorry to hear that, Jacquelin. I hope you are able to heal without negative consequences. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  3. Thank you for this information.

    Fluoroquinolones in chicken could explain people's tendoninosis in their wrists, shoulders, forearms.

    The drug companies make money at both ends: the animals and the people who are ill eating the contaminated animals.

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    1. You've got it, Mark. And everyone suffers in the end. Thanks for commenting!

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  4. That explains all of my pain when I use to eat chicken after suffering from Fluroquinolone Toxicity. I can no longer take that chance...and I really miss eating chicken :(

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  5. I suffered extreme adverse reaction to Cipro - including tendon pain, joint problems and neuropathy almost three years ago. After much improvement in these symptoms, I suffered an extreme sudden relapse of these symptoms within 20 minutes of consuming salmon . . . which must have been adulterated by fluoroquinolones. Thank you for writing and researching this story.

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    1. Hi Tim, How long did the symptoms of your relapse stay with you? My husband is out of work on disability after eating farm raised shrimp. He had recovered from fluoroquinolone toxicity about two years ago after suffering for over three years, now he is in worse shape than ever, can barely walk and is very scared of how bad this could get. Thanks, Kim

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    2. I too was "re-poisioned" by farmed raised shrimp 7 months ago. It had been three years and I had mostly (but not completely recovered). I am improving. If he takes glucosamine, make sure it is VEGAN. I found out the hard way that glucosamine is made from shrimp shells. I never eat out anymore. It is too much of a health liability.

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    3. Wow.Thanks for your stories. I'm going to research this further at some point and write about shrimp and toxicity. If anyone has information regarding this, feel free to contact me at my email address listed on my "About" page. Thanks!

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    4. Sorry...the email address is actually on my "Contact Me" page. :)

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    5. This information needs to get out there. Two weeks after being floxed (second time) but feeling better I ate lots of shrimp at an Asian buffet. I got much worse and never made the connection. Only organic everything from now on! People commonly talk about their floxing experience worsening weeks into it - I wonder if this is only a reaction to something you ate to an already beaten down floxed body.

      Fyi my second floxing happened during travels in Central America recently where a pharmacist recommended a steroid cream for a rash I had (that I didn't need!!!!) - that plus I was eating chicken every day ( Latin America. Rotisserie chicken is delicious). That combination was it. Woke up one morning in Mexico city and my Achilles heels ached so much I could not walk. I immediately thought flox. Now 3 weeks later literally every tendon of mine is sore. It really sucks. A few weeks ago I was climbing volcanoes. Now I can barely walk!

      Our food supply is in shambles.

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  6. I took Levaquin in the fall of 2007 and had problems immediately and then more and more but I did not figure out what happened to me for 3 1/2 years even though my list of problems reads like the warnings in the product literature. My blood pressure was all over the place, I lost control of my bladder, I had horrible diarrhea and gas from hell, heartburn, stomach cramps, headaches, confusion, insomnia, fatigue, central and peripheral nervous system issues like tingling and zapping and numbness, body-wide pain, spontaneous tendon ruptures, cartilage lesions requiring a cartilage transplant, blood clots, a hematoma, bloated failing veins, pulmonary edema, panic attacks, fasciculations and convulsive activity, tendonitis, rapid disc degeneration, nerve pain, chemical sensitivities, muscle weakness, visual problems and the list goes on but I can't remember it all, oh yeah, memory problems. One of the worst parts of this whole experience is that although we are as damaged as cancer patients the medical system that did this to us is in complete denial that it is happening. Not only do we not get any support we are actually mocked and ridiculed for suggesting these drugs did all this horrible damage to us.

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  7. Sorry for the lateness of my reply, Tim and the Anonymouses. It's amazing what's in our food...and it doesn't affect everyone equally. That's why it's so difficult to pinpoint what is causing our health problems. it takes diligent research and experimentation to figure it out. I'm so sorry each of you have been having terrible reactions. No one should have to suffer like that.

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  8. I am currently doing a study (very basic level). Do they still use fluoroquinolones in antibiotics for humans??

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    1. Here is an article you may wish to read, Bharathi: http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20130826/fda-strengthens-fluoroquinolone-warning

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    2. Yes Bharathi, extensively, doctors will prescribe fluoroquinolones for sinus infections and many other suspected infections. They prescribe them even when they are not sure but simply suspect that you have an infection of some sort

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  9. Thank you for providing this info. I have been struggling with Ciprofloxacin toxicity since this last July. The majority of my symptoms have been peripheral neuropathy related, which can be quite painful. I've been interested in knowing to what extent floraquinolone residue exists in the meat supply, since clearly I need to avoid any additional exposure. Some of my worst flare ups have been after eating non grass fed/ non organic meats.

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    1. Hi, anonymous. I don't think we will know that for sure, since no one is admitting to using fluoroquinolone since the ban. But I would continue avoiding any meat that doesn't come from certified organic farms. (Though check my list mentioned above companies that were caught in violation.)

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