In a reported bid to protect public health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has enlisted a Texas Tech University food center to monitor commercially-sold meat for pathogens and superbugs.
The Lubbock-based International Center for Food Industry Excellence (ICFIE ) was awarded a $700,000 federal grant under an FDA program aimed at reducing antibiotic resistance, labeled one of the greatest threats to public health by the World Health Organization.
The ICFIE will surveil meat products including beef, pork and poultry under the guidance of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System. Established in 1996, NARMS is responsible for tracking changes regarding bacterial resistance and the mechanisms in which it is spread.
The rise in superbugs is attributed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to a number of factors including the overprescription of antibiotics and the agriculture industry’s increasing dependence on the drugs to treat infection and promote growth among livestock.
Federal officials selected the Texas Tech food center for the grant based on its experience researching food safety and monitoring meat for antibiotic resistant bacteria, ICFIE director Mindy Brashears told the Associated Press.
The FDA appears to be ramping up efforts to combat antibiotic resistance following confirmation that superbug infections have now reached the United States. One of the nation’s first human superbug infections involved a patient who contracted a strain of bacteria resistant to “the antibiotic of last resort.”
In May, doctors detected a strain of bacteria-resistant E. coli in the urine of a 49-year-old woman from Pennsylvania. Colistin, a last-resort drug used to treat the infection, was determined useless against the superbug, Breitbart News previously reported.
Other diseases including pneumonia, tuberculosis and gonorrhea have grown increasingly more difficult to treat as a result of antibiotic resistance. The endemic is a catalyst for rising health care costs due to prolonged hospital stays and a surge in superbug-related fatalities.
Julie Wilson is a contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow Julie on Twitter @JWills512