Antibiotic Awareness Week starts on Nov. 13. Antibiotic resistance, or AR, happens when antibiotics can no longer treat infections. This means germs are not killed and instead can grow and spread. AR leads to higher costs, longer recovery time, and even death.

Antibiotic use in animals can affect human health. All animals carry bacteria in their gut. Antibiotics given to animals will cause most gut germs to die, but resistant germs can survive and grow. If animals are close together, these germs can spread.

People get sick when they handle or eat food contaminated with resistant bacteria. Salmonella is one type of bacteria spread through food. This germ causes about 100,000 AR infections in the United States each year.

Preventing the spread of foodborne infections due to AR is challenging. There are several steps that you can take:

• Wash your hands and counters often. Germs can survive in many places in your kitchen. This includes cutting boards and utensils.

• Do not cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat, seafood, and eggs separate from produce and cooked foods.

• Cook food to the right temperature. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat. Checking the color and texture of meat does not tell you if it is safe to eat.

• Keep your refrigerator below 40 degrees. Germs can grow in many foods within two hours if you do not refrigerate them.

• Talk to your legislators about supporting the appropriate use of antibiotics in food production.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/index.html.

Jennifer Liao, Pharm.D.

antibiotic resistance coordinator

Maine Center for Disease Control

Augusta