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The Meat We Eat: NC Company Offers Alternative to Livestock Antibiotics

Photo: Clearstream LLC, based in Harrisburg, applies its product to a variety of residential and commercial spaces. Courtesy: Clearstream, LLC
Photo: Clearstream LLC, based in Harrisburg, applies its product to a variety of residential and commercial spaces. Courtesy: Clearstream, LLC
June 9, 2014

HARRISBURG, N.C. – North Carolina’s hundreds of livestock farms – including poultry and swine – soon will have to look for other means to keep the meat we eat free of disease.

The Federal Drug Administration has asked pharmaceutical companies to limit the availability of some antibiotics to farmers, because of concerns it may be promoting antibiotic resistance.

Barrett Slenning, a professor at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, says the increasing use of antibiotics has impacted the natural development of bacteria over time.

"We are kind of pushing our thumb on the scale, changing that battle because we can now manufacture these compounds and use them, and so we are going to be potentially affecting the environment," he explains.

Slenning says he still believes human overuse of antibiotics – not livestock – is the biggest threat to the spread of diseases such as MRSA.

He points out that the MRSA strains often found in livestock are different than those found in humans.

A North Carolina company has developed an alternative to antibiotics in farming.

Clearstream, based in Harrisburg, has created a treatment that is applied to an environment to kill the source of bacteria.

While not in use by farms, Clearstream's products are used in medical facilities, schools, athletic venues and even cruise ships.

Tony Daddona, Clearstream’s COO, explains why the company’s product may provide a healthy alternative.

"Antibiotics are a Band-Aid in every situation,” he says. “So what we try to do is go to the source of the bacteria, before it's ingested into their bodies."

In a recent study, Johns Hopkins University found a connection between factory farms and MRSA, particularly in communities with swine-production facilities.

According to the state Department of Agriculture, North Carolina ranks second in the nation when it comes to number of hogs in livestock production.

"You're starting to see more and more community-acquired infections taking place with people that normally would not have been exposed to it,” says Jim Praechtl, Clearstream's CEO. “It isn't like these people all made trips to the hospital and came back out with MRSA."

The FDA is recommending veterinary oversight of antibiotic use in livestock farming.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC