Salon.com posted an article titled, “What’s wrong with our food?”, where Alex Koppelman interviewed Michael Pollan, the Knight Professor of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. Pollan, who is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine, discussed recent foodborne illness outbreaks with Koppelman.
On the recent Consumer Reports study that revealed high bacterial counts for Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry sold in the United States:
Well, the extent of [the contamination] did [surprise me]. The problem has been growing over the past few years. I mean, food poisoning’s always with us, there are always some nasty bugs that get into the food, but the scope of it has gotten a lot more serious. And why that is, I can only speculate, but the way we’re producing meat is certainly conducive to these sorts of contaminations.
I don’t know what strains of campylobacter or salmonella have been implicated in the chicken, but some of them are antibiotic-resistant strains. That’s a particular problem with salmonella. Salmonella was not as serious a problem a few years ago; it was very common in the environment and most of us could fight it with antibiotics, but once you get an antibiotic-resistant strain, it’s a big problem … We’ve been warned for decades about the prospect of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in our food supply. These antibiotics are precious public goods that are being wasted on agriculture. Now, you have to go back and ask why would we be using antibiotics and causing a completely foreseeable problem? . . .