Well, I guess this is just the week of me cutting and pasting... I considered reworking this terrific blog post from Itchy Little World, but I didn't really have anything to add or change. I did look this up to verify it's accuracy and, while I couldn't find the reference over at Fooducate, I did find posts about this at sites such as Washington State University and the University of California.
Hidden Dangers: Antibiotics Found in Organic Fruit
Wow, I’m actually a bit speechless right now. Thank you to Fooducate for posting about the disgusting truths about some organic produce on Facebook. You’ve inspired me to write this disgruntled post.
We know that antibiotics are given to non-organic livestock to prevent disease and encourage growth.
But, did you know that organic apples and pears are also treated with antibiotics? It appears that all other produce, both organic, and conventional, are prohibited from antibiotic treatment. From what I’ve read USDA certified organic apples and pears as well as conventional livestock are the only food items treated with antibiotics.
We assume organic produce is healthy because it is grown using biological, physical or mechanical methods or natural controls instead of chemically processed methods. However, in this August 2, 2012 press release from the USDA, we clearly see there is a loophole.
“While organic principles require the use of biological, physical or mechanical methods or natural controls to prevent or control crop pests, weeds, and diseases, the organic regulations permit use of carefully evaluated inputs when natural methods are insufficient to address critical issues of production.”“Evaluted Imputs?” What in the world does that mean? Sounds a little suspicious to me. And that’s because it is. Take a look at this, also from the same press release.
“Tetracycline has been allowed in organic crop production since 2002 solely to control fire blight, a bacterial disease affecting large populations of apples and pears. Given the high susceptibility of the crops to the disease, and in light of tetracycline’s proven effectiveness to treat it, the National Organic Standards Board recommended that the substance continue to be allowed for a period. However, the expiration date should encourage the development of options for biological controls and also help cultivate fire blight-resistant apple and pear varieties.”That’s great that they are encouraging organic farms to move away from the use of tetracycline, but that doesn’t help us today. I’m not sure about you, but my kids eat boat loads of organic apples and pears. I’m cringing now at the thought of how much tetracycline they’ve probably consumed. And it turns out streptomycin, another antibiotic, is also used. Great! And this is not new information. These antibiotics have been approved for use on organic apple and pear produce for years!
Just what is tetracycline you ask? Wikipedia defines it as “a broad-spectrum polyketide antibiotic produced by the Streptomyces genus of Actinobacteria, indicated for use against many bacterial infections. It is a protein synthesis inhibitor.” In 2010, Tetracycline was added to the FDA’s list of medications under investigation for potential safety issues. Some of the potential side effects per Wikipedia are:
- **Should be avoided during pregnancy, as it may affect bone growth of the fetus
- Caution should be exercised in long-term use with breastfeeding. Short-term use is safe.
- Can stain developing teeth (even when taken by the mother during pregnancy)
- Can cause permanent teeth discoloration (yellow-gray-brown); infancy and childhood to eight years old
- Skin photo-sensitivity; exposure to the sun or intense light is not recommended
- Drug-induced lupus, and hepatitis
- Can induce microvesicular fatty liver
- Can cause breathing complications as well as anaphylactic shock in some individuals
An eczema connection?
And specifically important to the eczema community is this…according to Wikipedia, overuse of tetracycline has led to a resistance to staph infections!
“Resistance amongst Staphylococcus spp., Streptococcus spp., Neisseria gonorrhoeae, anaerobes, members of the Enterobacteriaceae and several other previously sensitive organisms is now quite common.”We know that those with eczema are especially prone to staph infections. Is it really possible that eating USDA certified organic apples and pears could possibly lead to the body’s inability to fight off staph infections? I’m probably being over dramatic, in fact I know I am. And I’m sure the quantities of tetracycline and streptomycin are rather small and possibly insignificant all together….in moderation. But take our children’s small, frail bodies, and add an apple and pear every day. Could the build-up of tetracycline really harm them over time?
What are we to do?
The good news. Apparently there are some apples and pears that are naturally resistant to fire blight, so it would seem these would be safest to eat. Whatever you do, definitely don’t stop eating apples or pears. Enjoy more from the resistant lists and less (or none if you’re able) from the non-resistant list.
Apples Highly Resistant
- Northwestern Greening
- Nova EasyGro
- Sir Prize
- Red Delicious
- Northern Spy
- Golden Delicious
- Granny Smith
- Pink Lady
- Rome Beauty
- Yellow Transparent
- Old Home
- Clapp’s Favorite
Too bad all our family’s favorite apples and pears are most likely to be treated with antibiotics. I guess we’ll have to search out some new favorites until 2014 when tetracycline is no longer used. I’m going to take this list with me and ask my local organic store if they can start carrying some of the naturally resistant varieties of apples and pears.
What are your thoughts? Will this information about apples and pears change the way your family eats?