Plug into The Feeding Tube

Food woo being the most pervasive pseudoscience that we all encounter on a daily basis, we decided that it also made the best next target for Skeptoid Media. And so we conceived a prospective new series, The Feeding Tube, starring an actual real live food scientist, Tamara Robertson.

We’ve completed the first video, choosing as our topic one of the pop food fads taken from the wall at the local Chipotle restaurant, well known for its embrace of food fads at the expense of food science. This is about beef cattle treated with antibiotics, and we hope we’ve given an excellent overview in this quick 3-minute video.

Skeptoid Media is a viewer-supported nonprofit, so like all our projects, The Feeding Tube lives or dies based on whether you support it or not. A few bucks per episode means this information will be thrust in the face of all those who reject food science wherever it conflicts with their preferred ideology. Ideology is a fine thing, except when it’s used to reject reality.

We hope you like The Feeding Tube. Please sign up to receive email updates of new and upcoming episodes.

About Brian Dunning

Science writer Brian Dunning is the host and producer of Skeptoid.
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12 Responses to Plug into The Feeding Tube

  1. Nelson says:

    I guess those pseudo scientists at the American Academy of Pediatrics are just off doing their scare tactics again when they disagree with you on the issue of whether drug resistant strains get into the human population and if that causes any harm. According to the this article published in that well known pseudo science magazine U.S. News and world report which quotes: In recent years epidemiologists have been able to link the overuse of drugs in animals to infections they have found in humans. These have included methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, in turkey, pork, chicken and beef. People also have gotten MRSA from exposure to livestock, and exposure to E. coli in animals has led to urinary tract infections in humans, and to sepsis, which is commonly called “blood poisoning.” and this from Dr. Jerome Paulson former chairperson executive committee of the Council on environmental Health: The indiscriminate use of antibiotics without a prescription or the input of a veterinarian puts the health of children at risk,” Dr. Jerome Paulson, one of the authors of the report and past chairperson of the academy’s executive committee of the Council on Environmental Health, said in a statement. Read the whole report here:
    Your whole point being made in this video is actually the one being deceptive as “Organic” meat is not allowed to have had antibiotics used or they cannot call it Organic. So the point that there is no longer any trace of the drug is not the important point at all. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than 2 million Americans become sick because of drug-resistant bacteria, and more than 23,000 of them die. For most infections, incidence is highest among children younger than 5. That is the important point that you merely mention in passing as if is isn’t the main problem. Whose payroll are you on Ms. Robertson?

    • Robert says:

      Pediatricians are not zoologists and US News and World Report is not a scientific journal. You’re evidently saying that a poll of out-of-field scientists are worried about something in a consumer journal and that constitutes better evidence than in-field scientists doing actual studies, measurements, and tests. I also bet you can poll them on aliens abductions and make a good article out of that too. It will sell lots of papers. Good for business.

    • Grimbeard says:

      “Whose payroll are you on Ms. Robertson?” And *you* cry ‘ad hominem’ about Robert’s reply (which wasn’t ad hominem, by the way, because the nature of a publication is a relevant criterion for evaluating the content of that publication). Oh, the sweet, sweet irony!

    • Rob says:

      The accusation of being on someone’s “payroll” because you’ve contradicted their claim (with facts) tells you more about the accuser than the accused.

    • Nelson 🙂
      there is no doubt that antibiotics use across the board in humans and animals is a expanding problem. There is no doubt that we are rapidly producing increasing pathogen resistance. 50 tons of antibiotics a day is used on humans in the US. Those numbers are scary. Cutting AB out of the food supply seems like a simple solution but the problem of resistance is much more significant than that. The most common AB in use in animals has no mechanism of action against human pathogens it is used to modify their gut bacteria to get more out of what they eat. Without it the would be a catastrophic failure in food production. Although possible to transition to a low meat food market it would take decades of retooling. Millions would starve if there was wholesale removal of AB from animal production all types in the food supply. Organic food in my opinion is a nice overfed western chuck the 1st world finger to the poor and developing world. Going organic would result in vast shortfalls in production and increasing land usage with lower crop and animal yields. Arguing that a pediatrician or zooologist is king is a pointless argument from authority. The problem is far more complicated than most believe. Removing antibiotics from human and animal treatment would halt resistance, with the cost of with millions dying from disease and starvation. There is no good evidence that removing AB completly from the food supply would produce a significant blunt in resistance.
      Certainly removing the most frequently used antibiotics in ruminants are ionophores, a distinctive class of antibiotics that alter intestinal flora to achieve increased energy and amino acid availability and improved nutrient utilization. Most beef calves in feedlots and some dairy heifers receive this drug routinely in their feed. Because of their specific mode of action, ionophores have never been used in humans or therapeutically in animals. While some bacteria are intrinsically resistant to these drugs, there is currently no evidence to suggest that ionophore resistance is transferable or that co-selection for resistance to other classes of antimicrobials occurs. Organics don’t use this and have smaller yields despite the fact that all available evidence indicates it has no impact on resistance since it is not used for treating infections. This is an ideological selling point that is too hard to market, IE: we only use good AB, so they surrender to ideology AB=Bad. Which is not always true.
      Truth is the bacteria are out there and they are sharing resistance with one another with or without further exposure. There are specific concerns such as use of tetracycline in swine populations and possible resistance in mammal crossover bacterial pathogens. Even if you remove AB from herd management they will continue to harbor and pass resistant strains of Staph and Ecoli.
      All of this is complicated and nuanced with trade offs since we have allowed the world population to surpass the ability to feed ourselves without modern husbandry.
      None of these points mean in any way shape or form indicate that eating a hamburger reared without AB will confer more safety at the point of consumption. Also being a pediatrician in no way surpasses the evidence nor does any title.

    • Dwight E Howell says:

      A few yrs before I retired teachers started wiping down furniture because of the danger of drug resistant bacteria though most infections were linked with dressing rooms and gym clothing. All of it would have been person to person or person to furniture to person. Yes the numbers and degree of drug resistant bacteria has been going up for decades but your job as 90 yrs ago is to fully cook all meat and avoid cross contamination. Proper sanitation procedures can prevent infections even if the meat is contaminated and it should be assumed everything is contaminated. If you get infected from meat somebody mishandled it most likely the person that cooked it.

  2. Michelle says:

    It seems to me that being a skeptic means that you mock everything you don’t agree with because it doesn’t fit your world view. Food science promoted by big businesses is like the tobacco companies saying tobacco is not only safe, but healthful. Calling yourself a skeptic doesn’t mean that you are right.

    • Michelle although many throw around the name skeptic a scientific skeptic adheres to the scientific consensus. Even when the results disrupt their world view and change their assessment due to well replicated evidence. Tobacco is a singular product, food is a multitude of products produced world wide by corporations big and small. That said there was no question that tobacco was unhealthy. The science proved that there was danger. Tobacco companies tried through political pressure and manipulation of public knowledge to try to discredit that growing body of consensus about the health risks. That is the opposite of the food issue where there are a multitude of disparaging complaints about conventional food fostered by the multi billion dollar organic industry in quest to scare you into paying a premium price for their product. In direct contrast with the available evidence. Tobacco Co used flawed biased index studies in an attempt to “prove” the health concerns were false…… Sounds familiar it should. That is exactly the type of research trumpeted by the organic food industry.
      You see in this scenario the organic food industry is the one behaving like the tobacco companies in a quest to scare you into buying their overpriced product.
      The only reputable-replicated science originating from multiple sources with vastly different lines of evidence says the concerns are exaggerated or false.
      Im not Right there is no Right there is only evidence and degrees of quality 🙂

  3. Nelson says:

    No I am saying that Pediatricians are better informed about the health risks of run away antibiotic resistant bugs then a Zoologist. Whether that article was first in JAMA or Zoology today, it is the information that is important here not the hierarchy of the publishing journal. Got it now? You like most skeptics are fast to pull the Ad Hominum card but are not so careful about not being guilty of the same crime. Your attack on the place where the article was written is irrelevant, it wasn’t a scientific abstract that was written and didn’t need a peer review. It was trying to convey an important issue but I guess that little point was lost on you. Why don’t you try to find fault where it is more important, namely the over use of antibiotics, because that is the real point?

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