Antibiotics in the food chain: How much do you know?

Consumers International (CI) observed 14-20 November 2016 as Antibiotics Awareness Week. The quiz below is part of their campaign material:

Antibiotics quiz1.     Antibiotics are powerful medicines that kill:

  1. Viruses
  2. All microbes
  3. Bacteria 

2.   What percentage of the world’s antibiotics are used in farming?

  1. 22%
  2. 31%
  3. 47%
  4. 63% 

3.   If animals are given antibiotics does it mean that, when we eat meat from those animals, we are eating antibiotics?

  1. Yes
  2. No 

4.   Does taking too many antibiotics mean that our bodies become resistant to antibiotics?

  1. No
  2. Yes

5.   How do superbugs spread to humans from farm animals?

  1. Through animal dung
  2. Through soil
  3. Through water
  4. Through air
  5. Through contaminated meat
  6. All of the above 

6.   What can happen if I get an antibiotic-resistant infection?

  1. I may be sick longer
  2. I may have to visit my doctor more or be treated in hospital
  3. I may need more expensive medicines or suffer side effects
  4. All of the above

 7.   By 2050, how many deaths per year are predicted from antimicrobial resistance?

  1. 3 million
  2. 8 million
  3. 10 million
  4. 15 million 

8.   Antibiotic resistance is already out of control and it’s only getting worse.  There’s nothing I can do.

  1. True
  2. False


  1. Antibiotics are medicines that treat bacterial infections. They do not cure infections caused by viruses, such as the common cold or flu. Using antibiotics when we do not need to can prevent them working when we do need them.
  1. Nearly two thirds, or 63% of the world’s antibiotics are used in farming, with much of this added to animals’ feed or water to make them grow faster or to stop diseases spreading through cramped, unsanitary factory farms.
  1. Meat from animals that have been given antibiotics should not contain antibiotic residues at levels that affect humans. Farmers are legally required to wait until antibiotics have left animals’ bodies before sending them for slaughter.
  1. Many people think that humans and animals become resistant to antibiotics. In fact, the problem is that bacteria become resistant to antibiotics and turn into ‘superbugs.’ Superbugs cannot be killed by the drugs we would normally use, which means that the diseases caused by them are much harder to treat.
  1. All of the above. Superbugs form in animals’ guts. They pass from the guts, through the animals’ dung, and spread through air, soil, and water. Our rivers, lakes and sewers already contain superbugs from human and animal faeces. Farm workers in contact with animal dung can also spread superbugs. When animals go for slaughter, their dung can contaminate the abattoirs to which they are sent. This means that meat from those abattoirs gets contaminated.
  1. Antibiotic resistance is happening everywhere in the world, affecting people of all ages. It is one of the biggest threats to public health today. Antibiotic resistant infections can take longer to treat, may require more frequent doctor visits, possible hospital stays, more severe side effects and expensive treatments. Serious, isn’t it?
  1. According to an independent review commissioned by the UK government, antimicrobial resistance is predicted to kill 10 million people per year by 2050 and, according to a World Bank report, could push 28 million people into extreme poverty. Antimicrobial resistance is a broader term for resistance in different types of microorganisms and includes resistance to antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic and antifungal drugs. Antibiotic resistance is by far the most urgent problem.
  2. False. While antibiotic resistance is a naturally occurring phenomenon, the misuse and over-use of antibiotics in plants, animals and humans has accelerated this process to dangerously high levels. But it’s not too late to reduce the impact of antibiotic resistance and we all have a part to play in preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics

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