Dr. Lance Price, a professor in the department of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University (GW) Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH), received a $3.1 million grant from the Wellcome Trust to study the impacts of California’s new legislation limiting the use of antimicrobial drugs given to livestock raised in the state.
Dr. Price is also the director of the school’s Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC), which was created to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics by engaging in research, advocacy, and science-based policy. ARAC focuses on finding out-of-the box solutions to antibiotic resistance, considered one of the greatest modern-day public health threats.
California’s new law regulating the use of antibiotics in food animals took effect on January 1. The law is the first in the United States to ban uses of antibiotics for routine disease prevention in food animal production. In January 2017, initial U.S. regulations went into effect that banned growth promotion uses of antibiotics and removed over-the-counter approvals for antibiotics in feed and water.
“This grant enables us to study the legislation’s effect on foodborne bacteria known to cause infections in humans due to preparation and consumption of all major types of meat: chicken, turkey, pork and beef,” said Dr. Price. “The data we collect will be crucial for establishing the legislation’s impact.”.
The new research will benefit from and complement work already underway in a project funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that Dr. Price is leading. Through this first-of-its-kind study, Dr. Price’s team is testing both retail chicken purchased in Southern California and human biological samples collected through Kaiser Permanente of Southern California for antibiotic resistant E. coli bacteria.
“Research demonstrates clear links between antimicrobial use in poultry and human antibiotic-resistant infections. The bacteria we are studying, E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter, can be found in a substantial percentage of retail meat sold in the U.S. and are frequent causes of human foodborne infections,” Dr. Price said.