Dame Sally’s antibiotics nightmare just got bigger

Large girl exercising
Keep on with antibiotics and soon, we’ll all look this way

Actually, it’s not one nightmare, it’s two.

And they haven’t just happened, they’ve been growing for fifty years.

Antibiotics resistance and obesity.

Both “as dangerous as terrorism”. Exploding in slo-mo, right now.

No more miracles

Already half of our antibiotics – the miracle drugs without which modern medicine would be impossible – fail because of superbugs. And with no new “silver bullets” coming down the pipeline, any day now they’ll stop working altogether.

That’s nightmare No 1.

An unstoppable disaster caused by horrendous over-use. Not just by medicine, where antibiotics are prescribed for everything from a heart transplant to repairing a pulled fingernail. But by agriculture across the board, where antibiotics are used at industrial levels to support high intensity farming techniques.

Industrial level?

And the rest. Currently, farmers around the world are shovelling 65,000 tonnes a year into livestock and plant production, skyrocketing sharply to 108,000 tonnes by 2030.

Strictly for animal health, of course – essential to modern, high-yield, concentration camp farming, where herds and flocks breed shoulder-to-shoulder.

With shhh, the very useful side-effect that antibiotics make everything grow twice as big and twice as fast on even less feedstuff. Fattening up for market. Amazing. Growth promotion de luxe.

Which brings us to nightmare No 2.

Bigger, better, fatter

Because it’s not just animals growing fatter, faster – it’s people.

Already 64% of UK adults are classed as overweight or obese – a number that accelerates daily.

More dangerous than terrorism?

Do the math.

How many terrorist bombs would it take to destroy the lives of 13 million people? All of who are at risk of heart disease or stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, gallstones, osteoarthritis, gout and breathing problems, even asthma.

It’s not nice being fat either. So add problems with stress from ridicule, low self esteem, physical inability, possibly suicidal tendencies.

More than half of us written off from “over-eating” – if you believe the experts.

Which is when you begin to realise the real horror staring Dame Sally in the face. Professor Dame Sally Davies, that is – England’s very energetic and concerned Chief Medical Officer.

Over-eating what?

Animals fed on antibiotics to make them grow fatter, is what.

Which poop out manure to make plants grow bigger and fatter, is what too.

Plants that are also fed antibiotics anyway to keep down blight and other diseases.

Growing in soil which drains to our streams, to our rivers, to our reservoirs and into our taps.

So that EVERYTHING we eat or drink is laced with drugs to make US grow fatter, faster too.

Get ready to bulge

Fat, obese and super-obese – that’s where we’re headed. Rapidly becoming the biggest threat to human survival on the planet. And Dame Sally’s biggest ever headache.

Oh sure, SOME fatties are fat because they’re gluttons – obsessed with food so they eat themselves stupid. But even that suggests that something is wrong somewhere, that somehow their systems are glitched so they can’t help themselves.

But where does that leave the rest of us?

Are we really all victims of a sedentary lifestyle – cliché-ridden couch potatoes, scoffing fast food and sugar-laden drinks in front of the TV? That might be the media hype, but what’s the reality?

Don’t some of us eat almost nothing, tiny morsels like a bird, and still get fat? AND can’t drop the weight off, even though we work out for two hours at a time, five days a week?

How come it’s selective – that some of us are, and some of us aren’t? And how come is it that the older we become, the more at risk we seem to be?

Yeah well, it’s them antibiotics what done it.

Our background diet since before childbirth. A steady intake of fatten-you-up drugs in everything we ingest across the entire food spectrum. Absorbed for our whole lifetimes – exactly the same way as all those cows and pigs and sheep and chickens and salmon we’re so fond of.

And remember how antibiotics work – the only thing they actually do.

They kill bacteria.

Miracle drugs, sure.

Except that our bodies are bacteria too – 90% bacteria and 10% human.

And oops, down in our gut, there are upwards of 100 trillion bacteria – the welcoming committee for any antibiotics coming down the hatch. Blasted to hell and gone in the middle of digesting our food for us, producing proteins, and regulating our immune systems – exactly what our amazing bacteria do for us, every day.

The full catastrophe

Obese? Why are we surprised? Our bacteria have been killed off or graunched in the most fearful ways.

But all of our metabolisms are different, so they react differently too. No two of us are the same.

Some extract more nutrition than they need too, some less. Some fail on certain food groups. And all the while, our body resistance goes steadily more haywire, every day more vulnerable, more susceptible to infection and disease.

Allergies for instance, who ever heard of the misery we have now, fifty years ago?

Yeah, so Dame Sally is right about how to handle the antibiotics problem.

Stop everything, now.

STOP!

Start again

And find some kind of alternative food source while residual antibiotics work themselves out of the food chain. For us personally, that’s got to be grow our own at home without fertilisers – supplemented with ocean fish, not those farmed jobs.

Will it trim our waistlines? Probably not, the damage has been done, so those spare tyres are here to stay.

One thing though, without antibiotics as a safety net, we’re going to have to tighten up on our hygiene. Wash hands for everything, eliminate germs in our living space with a Hypersteriliser.

At least we’ll sleep easy with it. No more nightmares, like Dame Sally has now.

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Originally posted on 28 December 2018 @ 10:32 pm

Originally posted on 28 December 2018 @ 10:32 pm

Gut feel says Dame Sally is right – and it IS all BS

Woman with tummy trouble
Our defences are down – so we need better hygiene

Nannying, yes. But Dame Sally is absolutely right.

And the proof is in our own gut – our gastrointestinal tracts.

Down there, where more than 100 trillion of our own body bacteria are hard at work, providing the life force by which we are who we are – the essence of every one of us.

Our microbiota reality

Our bacteria are possibly the most important body component of all – more than the brain, the heart, the lungs, or any of the rest of us. Simply because, without them we wouldn’t exist. No digestion, no energy, no power, no immunity, no emotion, no opportunity to think – the OS software to drive the body machine.

Pretty vital, right? But already under very serious threat.

Because to fulfil all those functions and enable the many thousands more that we’re capable of, the nature of those bacteria needs to be as diverse as possible – an app for every life eventuality and challenge, our body’s answer to everything.

Great, but nothing like as resilient or all-capable as it was. In the last 50 years, the biodiversity of our internal bacteria has dropped by 30%. Not as many varieties, not as many in each category, whole swathes of them killed off and gone.

Result, we’re not what we were – underperforming 30%. Not so well regulated or running so smooth. Prone to glitches and weaknesses. Out of adjustment and out of balance. Less able to resist hostile bacteria from outside. Liable to infection. Drifting out of control.

All this from bacteria? All they do is eat, right? So how come?

When things go wrong

Ah, but it’s what they eat and how they eat it – and whether they do or don’t. Whether that’s the right thing to do, or something’s not happening because they’re not there anymore.

Like the bacteria that react to taste and hunger satisfaction.

When the body needs energy, the taste boys trigger the brain – and we start lusting after food to suit, whatever the need is. Carbohydrates one way, protein another – which the brain translates into chocolate cake or burger and chips, according to our food experience.

Likewise, when we’ve had enough, the hunger satisfaction boys pull the plug. We’ve eaten, there’s fuel in the tank, we’re good to go for the next few hours.

So what happens if these two glitch? The taste boys go berserk for Coke, bacon sarnies and endless indulgence. The hunger satisfaction boys switch off altogether – can’t be bothered, or can’t remember what they’re supposed to be doing.

Whoops – binge eating. Gobbling mindlessly because we’re out of control. Noshing for the sake of it. Addicted to taste rewards and stopping at nothing to get it. Meal times, snacks in between, constant nibbles – a one-way ticket to obesity. Not a conscious thing in the mind, but compulsion by the body.

All because our bacteria are not all there, or not functioning properly. Dead and gone or missing and damaged.

So what kills bacteria, or graunches them like this?

Enter, the killer

Nothing less than the miracle drugs that have changed modern medicine.

Antibiotics – the phenomenon that has made the impossible possible – heart transplants, brain surgery, hip replacements, everything. And they’re used for everything too, the magic muti that people demand for even the slightest ailment – even against viruses, where they never work. Little Jimmy’s got the flu, give him some streptomycin.

Use and over-use, de luxe.

Er, they also make things grow – faster, bigger, better – bulking up to twice the size in less than half the time.

Sixty-five years of continuous use and farmers are using 65,000 tonnes of the stuff every year. Shovelling antibiotics into livestock, poultry, fish, plants and grain crops like there’s no tomorrow. Millions and millions and MILLIONS of examples that antibiotics promote growth.

But hang on a moment, that’s the stuff that WE eat! If they’re full of antibiotics, that means we must be too. We eat them, it’s their fattening growth promoter that winds up in OUR stomachs.

Nah, nah! Got it all wrong mate. The authorities know about residual antibiotics, so every farmers keeps a withdrawal log to show when he stops dosing them, ready for market. The stuff metabolises into the animal’s system – ten days or two weeks, we’re jake – no antibiotics.

Yeah, right

Which with respect to Dame Sally, is where the BS comes in – and we do mean cow-poo.

Yeah OK, all those animals go through withdrawal. But like they’ve done all their lives, they generate poo by the ton. Beef cattle for instance excrete between 80 – 90% of the nutrients they consume. Along with a lot of the antibiotics they’ve noshed too.

Some of that poo gets processed and fed back to them again – it’s still got lots of nutrients, why not?

And cow-poo makes manure – which fertilises the grass they eat, and a whole stack of cash plant crops too. Including maize meal, corn, rapeseed and sugar beet, which cows get to eat as well – many of these crops also boosted by their own antibiotic growth promoters or blight defence.

You can see where this is going.

The farmer might pull the antibiotics his cows get – they’re still mainlining on the stuff coming through in the crops grown to feed them. BS from start to finish – animals and plants are still full of antibiotics – and we keep eating them, three meals a day, every day from child-birth on up.

Double whammy

OK, Dame Sally, that’s TWO sources of antibiotics everyone has. The medical one, dosed up when sickness strikes, but often silly stuff as well. And the food one, with a residual dose coming through in everything we eat – the water too, because the cattle run-off flows into the streams.

Yup, they’re right there in the Thames – trimethoprim, oxytetracycline, ciprofloxacin and all your other favourites. How do you like them apples – which, by the way are also routinely sprayed with streptomycin and oxytetracycline?

Uh huh.

So now you expect the standard rant about antibiotics resistance and how medicine faces a crisis.

Sorry Dame Sally, but we’re out of our heads about much worse than that.

First off, the obesity epidemic that already has two-thirds of adult Brits overweight and at risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and all the others. The cows were overweight, so we are too – in a slow-motion epidemic that will take decades – quite different from the rapid-fire flu disaster of 1918, or the months-long onset of AIDS.

Second, the lowered resistance and defence capability of our internal bacteria. We’re 30% more susceptible to illnesses and disease – along with unexplained malfunctions in all parts of the body, allergies, deficiencies and other types of failure – probably autism and mental issues too.

And that’s why you’re right to nanny us, Dame Sally. Why we should carry tissues, wash our hands, drink tea not wine and step away from the Jammie Dodger. We’re more at risk than we’ve ever been.

Because in our biologically impaired and deficient state, we’re more likely to catch germs and fall sick, more likely to go off the rails eating the wrong stuff, more likely to wind up in hospital.

As you’ve said yourself, many times, Dame Sally – we need to tighten up on the way we care for ourselves – we need to rediscover hygiene.

Up our game, or else…

And as the pace of this crisis accelerates, that means way more than hand washing. It means the living space around us too. Janitorial companies make a lot of noise about deep cleaning to get rid of germs. But it’s not just surfaces that need attention, it’s the very air around us too.

Viruses and bacteria are so microscopically small, they’re most of the time airborne. Which is why we need a Hypersteriliser – to mist up the air with ionised hydrogen peroxide so that everything is sterilised, safe. Our internal bacteria are safe – the external ones are all oxidised to nothing.

Yeah, we gotcha Dame Sally.

The BS stops here.

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Originally posted on 3 January 2019 @ 12:02 am

Originally posted on 3 January 2019 @ 12:02 am

Why aren’t we warned that antibiotics can make us fat?

Doc holding ABX
Not the lifesavers we think they are – they’re why we’re fat, and why we’re going to die in twenty years’ time

We get warned about other issues.

About antibiotic resistance, for instance.

That bacteria are rapidly becoming immune to our cure-all wonder drugs.

That soon doctors will not be able to treat even everyday infections. Superbugs will have won the day and medicine will return to the Dark Ages.

An antibiotic apocalypse

Yes, very true. And it’s right that we’re warned. An “antibiotic apocalypse” as Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England calls it. A threat on par with terrorism and climate change.

She’s not wrong. Except that alarm about antibiotics failure is the big stick medics are using to obtain funding to develop new ones.

Government money, that is. Drug companies won’t finance it themselves – there’s no money in it. Widespread resistance means new drugs must be used as little as possible. They’re kept for emergencies when the older drugs fail.

So the whole business of developing a new drug and bringing it to market as soon as possible no longer has legs. Bacteria can become resistant in as little as six months, and the whole investment is down the tubes.

So the idea is to push the scare tactic.

Shake the government tree for around £890 million of taxpayer’s money. An incentive for some developer to take a gamble on a new product with an unmet need. Basically a bribe.

Not going to happen, is it?

Too public, too obvious, and too fraught with failure.

The 240,000 tonne money maker

Besides, why should a drug company take risks on new products when they’re already making a fortune on the old ones?

No, no, not as medicines. As growth promoters in agriculture. Because since researchers first noticed it in the 1950s, antibiotics have become the most phenomenal growth boosters worldwide.

In the last twenty years particularly, antibiotics in animal feed have reached industrial levels. 240,000 tonnes currently and set to rise another 70% by 2030. Prompting the rise of the factory farm or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). Vital support for rocketing world population, which itself has risen threefold to 7½ billion.

Yeah, so new drugs? Forget it. Ker-chunk, ker-chunk factories are working flat out all they can to keep pace with demand for the old ones. Sorry, no time for research, too busy making money. 240,000 tonnes worth of it.

And why weren’t we warned? Because it had nothing to do with us? Has nobody noticed we’re getting fatter?

Yes, they have. And they’re all keeping schtum about why.

Super-duper growth boosters

You see, twenty years is the same time scale in which our horrendous obesity epidemic has reared up. Today, two thirds of adults are either overweight or obese –  so are a third of our kids.

And all of that time we’ve been eating from food sources deliberately laced with antibiotics to boost growth. From egg to roasting chicken in six weeks. From new born calf to Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months.

On top of which manure from the same animals is used to enrich soil and boost plant growth. So that everything we eat, animal or vegetable, contains residual antibiotics. Every mouthful we take includes traces of the most successful growth booster of all time.

We ourselves are all eating antibiotic fatteners!

Uh huh. So why aren’t we warned?

Why aren’t we told that the reason we’re fat is not junk food, or sugary drinks, or a low exercise lifestyle?

Not natural gluttons

In thousands of years, the human body has regulated itself according to conditions. Wasting away in famine, yes. But seldom ballooning out in times of plenty. And certainly never in an epidemic like we have now.

So why aren’t we warned that just like animals, antibiotics send our food demands into overdrive? That they make appetites insatiable? And that just like animals, antibiotics make our systems absorb too much? Extracting too much nutrition and making too little waste?

We’re not naturally gluttons. Not naturally addicted to high octane, quick energy food and drink – which is what we’re accused of.

But that is what we have become. Our gut bacteria twisted by antibiotics into never being satisfied and always being hungry. Always on the lookout for a quick hit for our induced addiction.

Because pigging out on lettuce leaves will just not crack it. We’re strictly on the mainline stuff. Burgers, chips, kebabs, pizza, ice cream, chocolate, cake – all the good Mary Berry things. And all the no-nos on Jamie Oliver’s list.

Fat and fatter, that’s us.

Yet never once are we warned, despite the evidence on food farms worldwide. Though doctors already know that antibiotic medicines at a young age frequently trigger obesity by four or five.

We get blamed, it’s our fault. And our indulgent lifestyle that’s pushing us further into obesity. To the long-term killer consequences of diabetes, asthma, cancer and heart disease.

Thought antibiotics were lifesavers? We should have been warned. Made aware of a health hazard, just like cigarettes. With big bold death notices on the front of every box.

They might rescue us today – from a chest infection or surviving a heart transplant – if the bacteria don’t become resistant first.

Dead, or dying

But twenty years down the line we get the bill. A bulbous hunk of blubber on intravenous drips and breathing oxygen. Going down for the last time because of something we never knew was happening to us.

We never were – and we aren’t now.

Why aren’t we warned?

Picture Copyright: khamidulin / 123RF Stock Photo

Medics are worried antibiotics don’t work – but if we stop using them, we’ll all starve

Glam surgeon
Antibiotics aren’t working, people are going to die. They make people fat too, which also makes them die. The same with the animals – and if they die, we’ll all starve. But at least we’ll all be thin.

Yes, starve. At least 5 billion of us, two-thirds of the world’s population.

That’s the price tag, if we stop using antibiotics.

Not just in health, but in food production.

Where 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics are fed to livestock every year. To the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion pigs and 1 billion sheep that currently feed us.

Which in turn generate the fertile manure to produce wheat, rice and maize – mega-crops that deliver 50% of our plant food energy. As well as the sorghum, millet, potatoes, sweet potatoes, soybean and sugar that provide the next 25 percent.

Antibiotics in everything

Food for us, food for the livestock that feed us – and all laced through with residual antibiotics.

Why?

Because antibiotics are the most efficient agricultural growth boosters ever.

In the 1950s when antibiotics were first discovered, the world population was just 2½ billion. Today – supported by exactly the same land space since the planet hasn’t got any bigger – that figure currently tops 7½ billion.

Only possible by the phenomenal growth-enhancing side effects of antibiotics in animal feedstuffs. Wonder drug medicines for us – boom time jackpot for farmers. From egg to roasting chicken in six weeks. From new born calf to Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months. Jackpot!

So why would we pull the plug on the miracle that feeds us all so effortlessly?

Because the bacteria-clobbering MEDICAL miracle of antibiotics is fast not working any more. Bacteria have become resistant to them and developed immunity to them. They have become ineffective – and our own chief Medical Officer for England, Dr Dame Sally Davies, says so.

Pan resistant bacteria

As if to emphasise that point, last week the exploding medical hand grenade was the 70-year-old American patient who died of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) – a bug resistant to ALL antibiotics. Pan resistant bacteria are now a reality.

Antibiotics that don’t fight germs? It’s the end of modern medicine. No more heart transplants or hip replacements. Nor births by caesarean section either. Or any one of the thousands of routine operations and treatments impossible without infection protection.

It’s the end of a lot more besides.

What about all those billions of cows and chickens – and the daily dose in their feedstuff?

To breed in numbers like that, they have to live on crowded and disease-prone factory farms. Antibiotics make them grow faster but also keep them well. Essential for survival in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)

So yes, farmers will keep shovelling antibiotics at them. With 7½ billion mouths to feed, they can’t afford not to. Antibiotics or starve.

Except that just like with us, antibiotics will start failing for them too. And when one animal dies, the rest will follow in quick succession. A bushfire epidemic ripping through a slum – exactly what a CAFO is.

No more miracles

Which puts us between a rock and a hard place. Antibiotics can’t save our lives any more – and can’t save us from starving either.

Oh, but ironically for maximum misery, antibiotics make us fat too, just like the cows. So we have the rewards of obesity to look forward to as well – diabetes, asthma, cancer heart disease. Not a happy future.

But just maybe, a pretty one. Because antibiotics are so heavily part of our diet through our food, two thirds of Brit adults are already overweight or obese – and so are a third of our kids. So at least if we starve, we won’t go out fat.

For as the glamorous Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor once said “you can’t be too rich or too thin”.

Pass the streptomycin.

Picture Copyright: beerkoff / 123RF Stock Photo

Fat and forty? The food “Mickey Finns” that push us to obesity

Sad and overweight
Our overweight future – thanks to antibiotic Mickey Finn fat pills

One Big Mac won’t make you fat. But you can OD on them. Pushed by “Mickey Finns” that make your body always hungry.

You scoff and scoff like it’s going out of fashion. Too many calories – boom, you’re a porker.

Except it usually happens slower than that. And there’s not a hell of a lot you can do about it.

Chubby in childhood, the pounds keep piling on. Until one day, hello forty and size 16.

It’s the Mickey Finns, see?

Invisible fat pills

None of us realise we’re taking them. They’re slipped so quietly into every meal, not even doctors realise we’re on them. Every mouthful, another little dose. An unseen diet of the most efficient growth promoters on Earth.

Make no error – these are fat boosters, Big Time. Specially chosen because they bulk up bodies fast.

One, by triggering hunger pangs all the time. Two, by never letting the body decide when to stop. And three, by making the body absorb more nutrition than it’s meant to. Nowhere to go, so all that energy is stored as fat.

Nah, we’re talking rubbish, right? Nobody in their right mind would drip-feed growth boosters to the world at large. That would trigger an obesity epidemic.

Quiet please, epidemic in progress

Uh huh.

So would somebody please explain why two thirds of all adults are already seriously overweight or obese? And why one third of our kids are too?

Kinda looks like an epidemic, doesn’t it? Even our Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies, says so – though she attributes it to sugar.

Sugar as a growth booster?

If it was, there’d be farmers shovelling it into livestock as fast as they could. All those mouths to feed, see? 2½ billion of us worldwide fifty years ago – 7½ billion of us now. And all farmed off the same land area, because the planet hasn’t got any bigger in that time.

But farmers aren’t shovelling sugar, are they? It never even occurs to them.

Tell you what they are shovelling though.

Wholesale growth boosters

Antibiotics – 240,000 tonnes of them worldwide.

Which if we’ve done our maths right, works out to around 10 grams each for every one of the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion pigs and 1 billion sheep that currently are required to feed us.

And guess what?

Using antibiotics to boost growth at volumes like that started back in the 70s.

Back when factory farms first took off Big Time. Or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) as the industry calls them. Where antibiotics aren’t just used as growth boosters, they’re vital to keeping animals alive in super-crowded and unhygienic living conditions.

Big money though.  From egg to roasting chicken in six weeks. From new born calf to Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months. Jackpot!

Rise of Mickey Finns

70s, huh? When our current fat 40-year-olds  were a twinkle in their parents’ eye.

Back when baby illnesses started regularly getting treated by antibiotics. And when doctors first noticed that antibiotics given at two years old almost guaranteed overweight youngsters by five.  Even worse, when teenagers were prescribed antibiotics so often, they’d had them 17 times before they reached 20.

But how about all those animals chomping antibiotics?

Like everything else they eat, most of them get pooed out. 80% in fact, manure to enrich soil and fertilise plant crops. So it’s not just animals ingesting antibiotics, it’s plants too – fruit, cereals, grain crops, vegetables, you name it.

Animal feed crops too. So even though they get pulled off antibiotics before they’re sent to market, those animals are still noshing antibiotics with every meal. Right there in their feedstuff. Mickey Finns for animals.

Which means just about every food type in our supermarkets has antibiotic residues in it. Drip-drip growth boosters, the same as the animals get.  And just like them, we’re fattening up too.

But there’s a difference.

The Mickey Finn price tag

Animal lives are short, once they’re fat they get eaten.

Humans are there for the obesity long haul. For the overweight conditions that challenge muscles, joints and breathing.  For the type 2 diabetes. For the asthma, cancer and heart disease. All the joys that long term obesity brings.

Mickey Finns. And we thought they were Lifesavers.

Meanwhile all our heavyweight medics are running around, worrying about antibiotic resistance. Who cares if the drugs don’t work, they’re going to kill us anyway.

So how long before the penny drops and we dump them altogether?

Picture Copyright: poznyakov / 123RF Stock Photo

Why AMR on farms will be our biggest killer yet

Vet with calf
One way or another, our miracle life-saving drugs are going to kill us

Sounds all very innocent, doesn’t it? AMR on farms.

Yet within our lifetime, it could be the cause of 5 BILLION deaths – the biggest single calamity in our history.

Three little letters – AMR. Antimicrobial resistance, the increasing immunity of bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi to any medicine we throw at them.

Already a global health issue, this week its superbug effect on humans became the focus of world leaders at the United Nations.

The largely British initiative was driven by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, who targeted AMR as “the greatest future threat to our civilisation.”

The real villain

And top of the list of medicines most susceptible to AMR, is our previously unequalled group of miracle wonder drugs – antibiotics.

Because they’re so amazing, antibiotics have become almost the cure-all for any kind of illness or infection.

Major surgery? Yup, they’re essential. And little Jimmy’s cough? Start him on these and come back in a week.

With this kind of “infallible” hype among doctors and patients, they’ve become over-prescribed and over-used in almost a third of all cases – dramatically accelerating the opportunities for bacteria to develop immunity.

More chance to practice, more chance to succeed. Easy-peasy when you’re a versatile organism and high survivor, able to reproduce every twenty minutes

Armageddon in the making

So yes, AMR is a global nightmare. But a midget alongside the Armageddon of AMR on farms.

240,000 TONNES of antibiotics are shovelled into farm livestock every year. Industry will assert it’s to keep animals healthy. Reality is that antibiotics promote growth like nothing on Earth. Animals develop bigger, better and faster for a fraction of the cost and time.

The growth rate is so fantastic that in the 50 years since antibiotics were discovered, world food production has expanded to support a population more than THREE TIMES THE SIZE. And even more amazingly, off exactly the same amount of land – our planet is still as big as it was, half a century ago.

To do this of course, farming has become astronomically more intense. Expanding from the quaint pastoral myth of our childhood to the factory farms of today.

Ever heard of CAFOs?

That’s what industrial-scale factory farms are – Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Google for images of “CAFO” and you’ll see what we mean. Production so concentrated, it’s like animals herded into an over-crowded block of flats.

Such environments are so unhealthy that antibiotics are vital to keeping animals alive, let alone fattening them up. They compensate for the unnatural and unhealthy conditions – the everyday “veterinary” excuse for an industry that bucks against limiting antibiotics precisely because of AMR.

And as you’d expect, AMR on farms happens on an industrial scale – just like the farms themselves.

Superbug factories

No wonder. Bacteria are the oldest and most successful living organisms on the planet. Capable of surviving intense heat, intense cold, and even heavily acid environments. No antibiotic has stood up to them for more than 25 years.

Bash bacteria all you like, they always win. So that factory farms become superbug factories.

Which means that total AMR on farms is a fast-approaching reality. By numbers alone, accelerating faster than among us humans.

And what happens when AMR on farms becomes “pan-resistant” – responsive to no antibiotics at all?

In their concentration camp environments, the animals will sicken and die. Contagion will spread among them like wildfire. Infecting neighbouring farms through contaminated manure, ground seepage and water supply.

Overnight famine

Like all epidemics, it will happen suddenly. Overnight, millions of animals will be lost. 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion sheep and 1 billion pigs. Most of the world’s food supply – gone.

No food. Not for the 7½ billion we are now. Precious little for the 2½ billion we were 50 years ago, before this antibiotics disaster started. A one-way ticket for at least 5 billion of us – famine and death.

But we’re already dying anyway. Because of those same antibiotics.

Yes, from disease caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

And more frighteningly, from the drip-drip sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics we ingest every meal through our food.

All this, and obesity too

Antibiotics fatten up animals. We eat them, we fatten up from the same antibiotics. If not directly, then from their manure used to fertilise crops and other animal feed. Inescapable even if we’re vegetarian. Which is why two thirds of us are already obese.

But there’s a difference. Animals only survive fourteen months before they go to market.  Bigger and fatter – a kind of short-term obesity.

We go for the long haul. Living on for decades, getting fatter and fatter, more and more obese. And paying the inevitable price for obesity – asthma, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The long, slow road to painful and miserable death.

The UN meeting wants us to develop new antibiotics, use them more responsibly and cut down on the need for them through better hygiene.

Not good enough if we read the signs.

The ultimate price

Change or no change, all antibiotics will:

  • Inevitably succumb to AMR, generating killer superbugs
  • Push increasing numbers of us into accelerating obesity
  • Unleash AMR on farms, triggering wide-scale disease, rapidly followed by famine

Three outcomes, all ending in death. Our miracle life-savers have become mass killers.

Enough tinkering with antibiotics now.

It’s time our leaders found some serious alternatives.

What’s up, Doc?

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It took guts to dump the EU – now we need guts again to dump antibiotics

Fighting woman
Time to get tough and take hard decisions

Dump? As in “get rid of?” We can’t be serious, antibiotics save lives. We’d literally be dead without them!

We’ll be dead with them too – after long, slow, lingering illnesses.

Just like the EU – all milk and honey right now, but a disastrous train smash down the line.

Nobody wants to accept it, even our health gurus look like they’re in denial. But the evidence is shoved in our faces every day – antibiotics are a Jekyll and Hyde monster.

Because, yes, antibiotics do save lives. Modern medicine would be impossible without them. Miracles like heart transplants, hip replacements and caesarean births – sorry, can’t be done any more.

The mega-downside

It’s a hell of a lot to lose.

But a hell of a lot worse if we don’t dump antibiotics right now – and start actively hunting alternatives.

You see, while all the miracle-making has been grabbing headlines and saving thousands from certain fatality, the dark side of antibiotics has been creeping up, and is already threatening millions.

We need to dump them like the plague.

Which is exactly the kind of damage that antibiotics are doing. And it takes guts to realise it – because that’s where it’s happening – in your gut and ours, in everyone’s on the planet.

Down there, in our tummies, where digestion takes place. Low-profile background antibiotics at work. Not like the triple-whammy intravenous super heroes. Or the local dab-on-skin trouble-shooters.

Killers at work

Out of sight, out of mind, these guys are killers too – because that’s what antibiotics do, they kill bacteria. And by being in our tummies, they kill some of our own gut bacteria, the vital friendly kind that handle digestion, produce proteins, manage our immune systems and a thousand other chores.

They don’t just kill, they maim. Cause our bacteria to malfunction.

One thing they do is switch off our appetite control – we never know when we’ve had enough, so we overeat a lot of the time.

The other thing is to bump up food absorption – we extract more nutrients than our systems are meant to, making us fatter and fatter.

It’s not our food that does this – the burgers, pizza and chicken so many of us like so much. It’s the antibiotics IN our food – so we eat two helpings instead of one, with double ice cream afterwards, and a mega-Coke, just to be sure.

The proof is in our bulging waistlines – two-thirds of us are bigger than at any time in our history, already overweight or clinically obese – unwanted extra pounds that we’ve never had before.

Over-absorption

Demonised junk food maybe, but even our esteemed Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has not totally rejected pizza. Just a nibble from a smaller portion perhaps – as recommended by the Department of Health.

A miniscule taste of spinach and mushroom on a whole-wheat base – no challenge at all to a slim and trim athletic figure. No, not pizza, not junk food, not couch potato lifestyle, none of the current bogeys.

It’s over-eating and over-absorption that’s the problem. With over-absorption sneaking up on an increasing number of us unawares. Which means Dame Sally is right when she identifies obesity as a threat on par with terrorism.

Actually, it’s worse. Several million times worse.

Terrorism plus-plus

It might be hard to believe judging from headlines around the world, but UK deaths from terrorism currently average the same as from bees, just 5 a year.   Yes, shockingly, world-wide terrorist casualties for 2014 reached a grisly 32,658 – about the same as Europe-wide road accidents.

Against that, obesity-linked diseases are projected at 38,500 new cases of cancer a year by 2035 – plus 4.62 million new cases of type 2 diabetes, and 1.63 million cases of coronary heart disease. That’s a staggering 7.6 million of us – roughly 10% of the nation – way worse than terrorism.

So how do we know it’s antibiotics that fatten us? And how do they get into our food?

Quite simply, from the 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics the world uses every year – around 70-80% of them shovelled into commercial farming livestock, to stabilise intensive factory-farm production AND perform as growth boosters.

For the last 50 years farming has been revolutionised by the phenomenal effect antibiotics have in accelerating growth in farm animals. Added to livestock feed in small doses every day, their performance is astounding. From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years.

All in the poo

But animals are only the beginning. Though they fatten up amazingly, they still dump around 80% of the nutrients they eat as dung.  Cow pats rich in nutrients, supplements, vaccines and antibiotics – which are all collected and used as manure – prized “all-natural” fertiliser for all kinds of plant crops – grains, vegetables, fruit, and of course feedstuffs.

So whatever it is we’re eating, “re-cycled” antibiotics are already in our food chain. Chomped down unwittingly in small doses with every meal, just like the animals. Proven growth boosters administered in exactly the same way – yet health authorities are either in denial, or don’t want to know, that they are the trigger for our obesity.

Obesity that becomes our death sentence – more and more of us crowding in on the NHS – fading from the scene, losing our grip, heading for a feet-first exit.

Like the plague

Yeah, dump antibiotics. Dump them like the plague.

Dump them before there aren’t many of us left.

Sure it takes guts, knowing that they can’t save us after an accident, or keep us alive in major surgery. We’ll just have to bump our hygiene to compensate. Give those germs less and less of a chance to get at us.

Even sterilise our environment to reduce illnesses picked up from each other – the flu that goes around the office, or something more serious – easy enough with a hydrogen peroxide mister.

We know that dumping wins.

We just have to keep at it.

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Vital wake-up call behind this year’s flu-jab flop

Ready for injection
So what’s our Plan B when the medicines don’t work?

It’s not just vital, it’s absolutely crucial. A just-in-time reminder that both viruses and bacteria are living things, exactly like us.

More to the point, they are the most successful life-forms on the planet since the dawn of time. Survivors that adapt and change to suit conditions around them. Mutating to something entirely new in just minutes

Anatomy of a disaster

Which is why the flu-jab went wrong.

Every year, the most dangerous and virulent flu viruses mutate into a new strain. Every year, medical experts develop a new vaccine to clobber them. A moving target, because the viruses keep mutating all the time. So researchers have to predict which way they will develop before they actually do. Then work like mad to produce an effective serum before the opportunity passes.

Sometimes they guess right, sometimes they don’t. The viruses zig when they were expected to zag – sending that year’s protection plans down the drain.

Guess and super-guess

Which is what happened this winter. The A(H3N2) flu strain used to make the vaccine became sidelined when the main H3 virus developed in another direction. Result, 28,189 more deaths than the previous year – and a whole witch hunt about who is responsible and why.

Except nobody’s learning, are they?

Nobody is heeding the vital message – that viruses and bacteria mutate. That no matter how damn good we think we are, these small organisms – too tiny for the eye to see – can and will mutate into new forms impervious to whatever we throw at them.

Immune to antibiotics, immune to vaccines, immune to anything any health spokesperson might say, no matter how good they look on television.

Smart bugs

Time get real.

Because it’s not just the flu-jab that’s failed, it’s a lot of other meds besides. That have failed, or are going to fail, however we try to second-guess them.

Already there’s a whole slew of antibiotics that don’t work – vital drugs that could once save our lives from anything – now not even worth their weight in second-hand toffee paper.

For instance penicillin, the original wonder cure, was discovered in 1928, but resistant staph started emerging in 1940. Same story with erythromycin, launched in 1953 – with resistant strep occurring in 1968. Or methicillin, launched in 1960 with the dreaded tyrannosaurus rex MRSA rearing its head from 1962.

Bacteria have plenty of time, they can wait.

Which means we’re possibly only months away from total antibiotics failure altogether – slightly more significant than a flu-jab that doesn’t work.

But don’t take our word for it, no less a person than Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, identifies it as a threat on par with terrorism. Absolutely vital.

Microbial exit strategy

OK, so the flu-jab is a flop. Yet it shows us an out, even though it’s useless.

Because if we know the flu is coming but we have no defence, we still ought to be smart enough to avoid it. Same with any other bug, come to that – norovirus, Black Death, typhoid, Ebola.

AVOID, AVOID, AVOID. Vital self-protection.

Step One, wash hands – before and after any activity. Our fingers touch everything, often in quick succession – from filthy public loo because it’s an emergency – to Welsh Wagyu burger with onions and extra Stilton – because use a knife and fork and it will fall apart. How do you think norovirus happens?

Step Two, get rid of the germs around us. They’re always there, billions and billions of them – on every surface, in the air – we’re continually exposed, all the time.

But not if the place is sterilised. Not if the rooms we live in are sterilised free from germs before we enter. No viruses, no bacteria – zero opportunity for infection or disease.

All it takes is forty-odd minutes with a Hypersteriliser the night before. Misting up offices, classrooms, restaurants, waiting areas – everywhere with super-dry ionised hydrogen peroxide. Electrostatically charged to reach into every crack and crevice, actively grabbing at germs and destroying their cell structure.

Safe and secure

No germs, no problem, problem solved.

Which works for flu as well as any other bugs that might threaten us. No need for the jab, we’re safe.

We just have to wake up first.

Rediscover hygiene, or take our chances.

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Will your doctor give you cancer?

Doctor with capsule
Antibiotics might save lives quick – they can also trigger a long, slow death

Oh no, cancer! We’ve got to be kidding, right?

Doctors are there to save lives, not threaten them.

True. And more dedicated, committed professionals you could never find anywhere.

Except our own cleverness is catching up- with us.

Especially with antibiotics.

Deadly to bacteria, in more ways than one

We think of them as lifesavers – and yes, they are. Without antibiotics, most of modern medicine would be near impossible – particularly surgical procedures.

Heart bypasses and joint replacements might be routine, but without antibiotics to control infection they couldn’t even be attempted.

Medical miracles, it’s amazing what antibiotics have enabled us to do.

But the gleam is fading.

Fifty years after they were first discovered, they’re showing a major downside. Increasingly, bacteria are mutating to neutralise their effect – the germs that can kill us are becoming immune. Unstoppable.

Over-use and abuse

Totally our fault of course.

We have these magic silver bullets – so of course we use them everywhere. Doctors know they’re potent and need care, which is why all antibiotics are on prescription. But we’re so hyped up about these amazing cure-alls, we demand them for everything.

Which puts us on the cliff edge – about to plunge backwards, more than a hundred years. If antibiotics don’t work any more, what do we do then?

It’s a growing headache – which England’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Dame Sally Davies, puts on the same scale as the threat of terrorism. People are going to die because antibiotics don’t work any more – and doctors are powerless to prevent it.

But not quite yet.

Not all antibiotics are powerless against germs, even though some germs have evolved to be resistant to ALL antibiotics. If we can curb our massive over-use, we stand a fighting chance.

Which is why Dame Sally and the whole medical profession are constantly campaigning to limit antibiotic use.

A monumental uphill battle. Thanks to patient pressure, one in four of all prescriptions for antibiotics written in the UK is unnecessary. Minor ailments are sledge-hammer blitzed when ordinary paracetamol would be more than effective.

Or even a nice, restorative cup of tea – our grandparents knew a thing or two.

But medical over-use is only the tip of the iceberg.

Every year, over FOUR HUNDRED TONNES of antibiotics are shovelled into livestock up and down the country together with their regular feed.

Big profits drive this – the farmers’ rolling jackpot. Because the name of the game in agriculture is that antibiotics promote growth.

They bulk up animals and plants to twice the size in half the time – often even quicker. From egg to supermarket chicken in six weeks  – or more amazingly, calves for quality beef are market-ready between 3 and 16 weeks.

Fat Pills

Forget medical cures, the big plus with antibiotics is they MAKE THINGS GROW FAT.

So while we’ve been swallowing pills to make us better, farmers have been shoving them in to make animals bigger. On an industrial scale – think ship-building or trucks.

And they’ve been doing it for over fifty years – accelerating over the last twenty. Billions and billions of cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry and fish. Billions and billions of tonnes of fruit, vegetables and grain crops. Our entire food spectrum at the supermarket.

Which means everything we’ve been eating for the last twenty years has included proven growth promoters – through antibiotics added DIRECTLY to animal feed, or RESIDUAL quantities acquired via manure and soil enrichment.

Hello obesity

So guess what? WE’RE GETTING FAT TOO. Two thirds of us are already overweight and lurching towards serious medical problems.

Down in our gut, where our personal bacteria thrive, digesting our food and maintaining our systems, antibiotics have disturbed the natural balance that controls our appetite – putting our pedal to the metal in ghrelin production, the hormone that tells us to eat, eat, eat.

Result?

Crucial bacteria are destroyed or damaged, encouraging the growth of enterobacteriaceae, the obesity pathogen. And we’re up to our necks in an obesity epidemic – which according to Dame Sally is ALSO as dangerous as terrorism.

Makes you fat, makes you ill

And that’s where the cancer comes in. From the ciprofloxacin given to you by your doctor.

It might have cured your chest infection – but could also be the spur that tips your gut bacteria over the edge, wiping out whole families of useful and friendly bacteria, allowing enterobacteriaceae to thrive.

You may not have started fat, but along with the other trace antibiotics you eat daily with every meal, it’s so easy to bulk up. Size, 16, size 18 – jump-starting your way to obesity.

And obesity triggers not only cancer, but heart disease, diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, gout and asthma. Better watch your diet very carefully now – you can’t undo the damage or replace the missing bacteria, but you can avoid the slippery slope.

Illness avoidance

Priority One, avoid antibiotics as much as you can. Difficult when they’re in everything you eat, but you can REDUCE your intake. Organic vegetables as far as possible – they’re less likely to be grown from enriched manure – and deep ocean fish like cod and haddock, the ones they CAN’T farm.

Priority Two, avoid germs, so you don’t need antibiotics. Wash your hands whenever you think of it – certainly before food and after the loo. They might LOOK clean, but you can’t see viruses or bacteria – sometimes as small as 2 microns across, they’re difficult even with a microscope.

But they’re there, always – nano-dirt you can’t see, just waiting to enter your body – transferred from your fingers onto food – or into the soft tissue round your eyes and mouth.

They’re all around us too, on every surface and swirling around us in the air. Know how the sun shows up dust particles in a cross-beam? Germs are like that, only billions of times more – constant work for your immune system.

But you can reduce those too by making your rooms sterile, bringing viruses and bacteria around you down to zero. All it takes is a Hypersteriliser, a machine that mists up the air with ionised hydrogen peroxide, an eco-friendly germ killer that reaches everywhere and grabs germs on the fly, oxidising them to nothing.

Will your doctor give you cancer?

Not today, thank goodness. But don’t go asking for antibiotics unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Yeah, they’re lifesavers. But in ten or twenty years time, if they trigger obesity, they could also make you dead.

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Giants clash over chicken: Dame Sally vs the FSA

Threatening Heel
Right or wrong – there’s only one way with hygiene

Looks like the FSA is washing its hands of the food poisoning campylobacter issue.

They want to duck the cost of monitoring birds for this naturally-occurring bacteria and shove it onto industry.

Oh woe is us, woe is us, we’re all going to get sick.

Misplaced objectives

Not if proper leak-proof packaging is in use across the industry we won’t. Most birds have this bacteria in their gut – just like we have over 100 trillion bacteria in our own gut. They’re supposed to be there. Take one away and the balance between all of them is disturbed.

In birds’ metabolism, campylobacter is passive and benign. It does them no harm, and occurs in probably two-thirds of all birds farmed in the UK . Far from a scandal – and not “contaminated” as media hysteria would have us believe, these birds are colonised with it naturally. Because its presence may be necessary, like a catalyst for OTHER positive bacteria to do THEIR job.

For instance, campylobacter is closely related to helicobacter pylori – itself once even called “campylobacter”. Research shows helicobacter pylori to be a key cause of ulcers and stomach cancer. But eliminating helicobacter pylori is also linked to an increase in oesophageal disease and asthma.

Swings and roundabouts. Take away one element and you trigger another. Even one that looks hazardous – at first appraisal. So surprise, surprise, as long as it’s not activated, helicobacter pylori in the body may actually be necessary.

And anyway, if two-thirds of all birds in the UK have this dreadful campylobacter, why aren’t two-thirds of us ALWAYS moaning and groaning with stomach cramps and earth-shattering diarrhoea?

Reality check

Because – and maybe the FSA don’t know this – nobody eats raw chicken. And cooking chicken completely eliminates campylobacter. The whole KFC fast-food franchise succeeds because of it. So do a lot of Sunday lunches, kids lunch boxes – and let’s face it – household budgets. Chicken is probably our No 1 food staple.

Uh huh. But the FSA actually DO have a point about chicken being a health hazard – because campylobacter frequently crops up on the outside of packaging in the supermarket. It’s even known to leak out, dripping onto shelves below and contaminating other products.

The same thing happens at home too – cross-contamination in the refrigerator. Get campylobacter on your lettuce and your stomach will soon know all about it.

Yet for all this, the FSA never says anything about packaging. On the one hand they clobber the producers to reduce a naturally-occurring bacteria. And on the other they hector the rest of us not to wash chicken. Back-splatter will contaminate everyone’s kitchen – and foops, everyone will be writhing and groaning.

Yeah, right. But have you looked at chicken packaging in your supermarket lately?

The El Cheapo stuff is just wrapped in cling-film – yer pays yer money…

Pick it up and it’s dripping all over the place, particularly the whole birds. The premium stuff – and most of the cut choices – goujons, drumsticks and the rest – are packed on foam or polyethylene trays, then vacuum sealed. So leak-proof packaging does exist – why doesn’t the FSA enforce it?

And to prove that the industry is on side, in some supermarkets, there is even a prominent sticker DO NOT WASH – the FSA war-cry for at least the last two years.

Collision course

Which is exactly where our crusading Food Standards Agency runs head-on into the stern and often dire warnings of Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer.

Yeah, do not wash chicken, you can see the logic.

But consider the whole principle of DO NOT WASH – and you can feel the hackles rise.

Because Dame Sally’s rapidly snowballing headache at the moment is antibiotic resistance – the fact that a whole slew of killer superbugs are becoming immune to whatever miracle drugs we might throw at them. The Drugs Don’t Work is even the title of her book on the subject.

Without effective antibiotics to protect us, modern medicine comes to a shuddering, grinding stall. Slightly more of a crisis than food poisoning from chicken.

Which is why Dame Sally is tirelessly at it, warning us of the over-dependence on antibiotics – and urging us all to do the one thing that can minimise our exposure potential to deadly superbugs – WASH EVERYTHING.

The ew factor

With good reason. Dame Sally knows that day-to-day, our own sloppy hygiene is probably the biggest hazard we face. The facts are horrendous, yet we all smile sheepishly and shrug them away. A&E will sort it. A quick shot of amoxicillin or whatever and we’ll be right.

As if.

Kinda critical handling chicken.

And there is no way to avoid handling it – like getting it out of the packaging for a start. Then chopping it, trimming it, slicing it, whatever the recipe calls for.

Don’t wash the chicken, right. But if you want to avoid the tummy cramps, better scrub that chopping board, counter top, serving platter and trimming knife within an inch of its life – and your hands of course.

Which you should do anyway. Because it’s not just possible campylobacter you have to scrub off, it’s the likelihood of all the other bad guys as well – escherichia coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or just plain norovirus – take your pick.

Rediscover hygiene

So – wash or not wash?

Frankly, our money’s on Dame Sally.

If we’re going to get through this, we’ve got to be germ-free and clean. No way we can achieve that without soap and water. But there isn’t any available in most supermarkets.

OK then, carry antiseptic wipes – and hope the FSA gets on the packaging case soon.

Just don’t hold your breath.

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