January 2009 Union of Concerned Scientists Food & Environment News Roundup:
Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have discovered that antibiotic-resistant bacteria from open-air poultry trucks can spread to cars on the road behind these trucks.
Their study, published in the Journal of Infection and Public Health last November, found increased levels of pathogenic bacteria in the air and on surfaces in cars that followed trucks carrying broiler chickens.
The bacteria were resistant to three antibiotics used in human medicine and approved as poultry feed additives by the Food and Drug Administration. The scientists conducted the study in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, a region that has one of the highest densities of poultry CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) in the country.
“Besides aggressive drivers, now we have aggressive bacteria to worry about when we’re behind the wheel,” said Margaret Mellon, UCS’ Food and Environment Program director. “Congress needs to legislate limits on antibiotics use in food animals and get antibiotic-resistant bacteria under control.”
For more on the Johns Hopkins study, go to
And we thought all we had to worry about on the highways was other drivers … /Gary