Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Vets and Our Food Supply: Danger?

In Texas, veterinarian Woodrow Isbell was reprimanded by the veterinary board for actions that affect our FOOD SUPPLY and raise some serious general questions about whether or not some vets are endangering NOT ONLY or pets' health, but also our own.

On July 13, 2005, the FDA issued a warning letter to Blair Freeman of Ben Franklin, Texas, because he had presented a cow for slaughter that "contained residual gentamicin, an antibiotic."

According to FDA documents unrelated to this case, "No tolerance has been established for gentamicin in the kidney tissues of cattle as codified in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, section 556.300 (21 C.F.R. 556.300). The presence of this drug in the kidney tissue from this animal causes the food to be adulterated within the meaning of section 402(a)(2)(C)(ii) [21 U.S.C. § 342(a)(2)(C)(ii)] of the Act." (The test for presence of gentamicin is generally done on the kidney tissue.)

So, adulterated beef in our food supply? What's Dr. Isbell's responsibility for that?

According to the Board document, Isbell provided gentamicin prescriptions to Randy Freeman, Blair's grandfather, through a company called Walco International, Inc. The Board said: "Drug prescriptions would only be appropriate if there was a valid veterinarian-client-patient (VCP) relationship between Dr. Isbell and Randy Freeman, who owns a beef cattle operaation."

However, the Board said, "it is not clear that a valid VCP existed during the time that many of the prescriptions were authorized. In addition, the relatively large number of gentamicin prescriptions to Randy Freeman from Dr. Isbell indicates that usage is more than required from a normal-sized beef cattle operation. Dr. Isbell made only one on-site visit to Randy Freeman, on November 22, 2004. However, Dr. Isbell's records indicate that over 200 bottles of gentamicin were shipped to Randy Freeman prior to Dr. Isbell's on-site visit (and before a VCP relationship was established)."

So, what did the Board do after recognizing that Isbell's actions may have played a part in adulterating our food supply? All they did was reprimand him. That's it.

So what danger does gentamicin in the food supply post to we humans? Well, it seems that people don't definitively know -- which is perhaps why the FDA does not allow measurable levels of gentamicin to be present in beef. Many people believe that, in general, contamination of our food supply with antibiotics has played a part in development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

Here is an article called "Molecular Characterization of Gentamicin-Resistant Enterococci in the United States: Evidence of Spread from Animals to Humans Through Food." http://jcm.asm.org/cgi/content/abstract/41/3/1109

This article is:
"High-Level Gentamicin Resistant Enterococci and Quinupristin/Dalfopristin Resistant E. faecium from Ground Pork Purchased from Grocery Stores."

Here is information on the use of antibiotics in our food source -- many references to the adulteration of food with gentamicin:

Texas Vet Board link: www.tbvme.state.tx.us/Board%20Minutes/Minutes%2010-12-06.pdf. I found it very interesting that out of 9 members, 3 -- fully 1/3rd -- were recused from voting. Hmm, is this because they know Isbell? And does the lenient action by the board -- a reprimand only -- have anything to do with that?

Also see http://www.tbvme.state.tx.us/disciplinary.htm