Originally published September 14 2014
Does your food contain traces of allergy-inducing antibiotic residue?
by Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) They're an important part of a well balanced diet, but your favorite fruits and vegetables could be harboring silent chemicals that, in some people, may trigger a severe allergic reaction. A 10-year-old girl recently found this out the hard way after eating a supposedly allergen-free blueberry pie that, as it turns out, contained trace levels of a common crop antibiotic that put her into anaphylactic shock.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) carefully evaluated both the girl and the pie that she ate, eventually coming to the conclusion that a drug known as streptomycin was present on at least one of the blueberries in the pie. It was this chemical, a common antibiotic drug, that researchers came to realize was the culprit in the girl's reaction, demonstrating once again the dangers associated with antibiotic use in agriculture.
According to a recent study published in the September issue of the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAI), the girl had a medical history of both asthma and seasonal allergies, and known anaphylaxis to both penicillin and cow's milk. As far as her family and her medical practitioners were concerned, she had no other allergies or triggers -- that is, until they took a closer look at the foods that were believed to be safe.
"This is a very rare allergic reaction," stated Dr. James Sublett, M.D., ACAAI president-elect, concerning the findings. "Nevertheless, it's something allergists need to be aware of and that emergency room personnel may need to know about in order to help determine where anaphylactic reactions may arise. Anyone who is at risk for a life-threatening allergic reaction should always carry epinephrine. They also need to know how to use their epinephrine in an emergency situation."
U.S., Canada among only countries that still allow produce to be sprayed with antibiotics In some countries, primarily in Europe, it is against the law to spray produce with antibiotics, because it is recognized that these chemicals can cause health problems, including allergic reactions. But the practice is still permitted in both the U.S. and Canada, where chemical and drug industry interests seem to trump public safety concerns.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reportedly working to reduce antibiotic use in conventional agriculture, mainly to preserve their viability in the treatment of human disease. But these efforts are hardly enough to protect those with allergies to these chemicals from encountering them unintentionally when they try to eat healthy.
"As far as we know, this is the first report that links an allergic reaction to fruits treated with antibiotic pesticides," said Anne Des Roches, M.D., F.R.C.P., lead author of the study. "Certain European countries ban the use of antibiotics for growing foods, but the United States and Canada still allow them for agricultural purposes."
Even some 'organic' produce sprayed with antibiotic chemicals And don't think that just because you eat organic produce you're safe from antibiotic exposure. For years, growers of organic apples and pears, for instance, have been allowed to spray their fruit with an antibiotic known as tetracycline, which prevents a bacterial disease known as fire blight from destroying the crop.
Both tetracycline and streptomycin are permitted for use on organic apples and pears because large-scale growers convinced the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to allow them, claiming they're the only effective treatment against bacterial disease. However, beginning on October 21, 2014, organic pear and apple growers will no longer be allowed to use these chemicals, and will instead need to come up with a safer and more natural solution to fire blight.
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