Want to save the world but your superhero cape is at the cleaners? Here's somethign easier you can do: Invest in WhiteWave (WWAV) foods. Let me explain.
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) list at least 18 "superbugs" -- bacteria resistant to even the most aggressive form of antibiotic treatment. Looking deeper into the cause of this evolving menace, it is clear our irresponsible use of antibiotics in animals raised for human consumption is a primary culprit.
The FDA's recent recommendation to growers to voluntarily relabel how growers use antibiotics has allowed the growers to continue to use antibiotics at the same level by changing the language concerning their use. The ruling phases out growth promotion but still allows the use of antibiotics for prevention.
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Water contaminated by irrigation and sludge also contributes to the problem. Sludge, or bio solids, used in fertilizers, augments worldwide spread of antibiotic waste. Sludge is turned into a bio solid after processing.
People's improper use of antibiotics is another problem. The CDC estimates that up to 50% of the time, antibiotics are not needed or are used incorrectly. Taking antibiotics for shorter than the period prescribed is another common misuse. Antibiotics can't kill a virus, so if you get the flu, it's better to stay home and drink lots of water.
Even household products like hand sanitizers contribute to the problem. Hand sanitizers allow the strongest bacteria to survive.
According to the CDC, "each year in the United States, at least two million people become infected with bacteria resistant to antibiotics; and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections."
Dr. David Shlaes, an anti-infectives consultant and author of Antibiotics: The Perfect Storm, said recently on his blog that Europe is ahead of America fighting this pan resistance. When Europe halted the use of antibiotics in food animals, levels of resistance in human pathogens decreased.
Still, a BBC News report claims there are currently 700,000 deaths worldwide each year from antibiotic resistant bacteria; and a Rand Europe model suggests 10 million people could die each year from drug resistant pathogens by 2050.
How did we get here? Like HAL 9000, the supercomputer in Stanley Kubrick's movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey, food technology has run amok. In the movie, aliens, similar to our superbugs, travel the cosmos assisting lesser species to take evolutionary steps. And, like the movie, the food animal industry's advancement in technology has led us to our own food version of Pandora's Box.
India is a wasteland of antibiotic pollution. In a 2009 Washington Times article, we learn that in Patancheru, India, 90 pharmaceutical companies dump enough of just one antibiotic into the rivers each day to treat 90,000 people. Ciprofloxacin, along with 21 other active pharmaceuticals have been detected. Chemist Klaus Kuemmerer was quoted saying, "If you take a bath there, then you have all the antibiotics you need for treatment. If you take a few gasps of water, you're treated for everything."
China is in denial. Ma Jun, Director of the Chinese Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) has said, "Antibiotics are not considered pollution." China is the world's biggest maker and exporter of antibiotics.
The United States is not without blame. New York Times best-selling health writer Dr. Joseph Mercola, wrote in "The Race to Stay Ahead of Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs," that the United States uses 30 million pounds of antibiotics each year to raise farm animals. That accounts for 80% of all antibiotics used in our country.
Initially, I looked into pharmaceutical companies like Allergan and the drug Avycaz, a new antibiotic developed to treat serious Gram-negative bacterial infections, thinking drugs were our only defense. However, drugs this powerful often come with serious side effects. There must be a better alternative.
The pharmaceutical industry is trying to catch up in antibiotic research. For a ten-year period, the FDA changed its clinical trial requirements, making clinical trials for antibiotics virtually impossible to conduct. However, according to Dr. Shlaes, "Since 2012, after my book, Antibiotics: The Perfect Storm was published, the FDA has really turned the corner. I would like them to do more and go further -- but there is no denying that they have come a long way in the last several years."
There is more good news.
California will become the first U.S. state to prohibit the use of antibiotics for preventing disease and enhancing growth in farm animals. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018.
My husband and I refuse to take prescribed medicine unless we're seriously ill. We try to combat superbugs by focusing on the best, most economical way to avoid ingesting superbugs. Why eat antibiotic-injected poultry and meat when food free of antibiotics is available?
This brings us back to WhiteWave.
Among the companies offering antibiotic- and hormone-free products is WhiteWave Foods. Its Horizon Organics, Wallaby organic yogurt, and Earthbound Farms, food products are all hormone and antibiotic free. They also own EIEIOTM bulk creamers, making this stock a must-own birthday present stock for the kids. Recently, the company opened a 66,000 square foot facility in Louisville called, "The Greenhouse" that operates as a technical and innovation center.
WhiteWave reported an extraordinary first quarter 2016 with $3.8 billion in sales for 2015, up 13% over 2014 and an adjusted operating income growth of 24%.
The old saying, "You Are What You Eat" still holds true. Based on WhiteWave's first quarter earnings report, it looks like we can profit from healthy foods too.