The People's Perspective on Medicine

Using Antibiotics as Pesticides Might Trigger a Dangerous Allergic Reaction

Can people who are allergic to antibiotics develop a life-threatening reaction because of the food they eat? That question has been debated for some time.

A 10-year-old girl who ate a slice of blueberry pie experienced an allergic reaction to the streptomycin antibiotic that was used as a pesticide on the fruit. Although allergists consider this a rare reaction, it suggests that others may also be susceptible to anaphylaxis because fruits and vegetables have been contaminated by antibiotic pesticides.

It seems that if antibiotics are to be used as pesticides (and the wisdom of this could well be debated), that the resulting foods should be labeled to warn people who may have sensitivities. Getting such labeling to track all the way through to the slice of pie that this child was served could be quite a challenge. If it saves lives, though, wouldn’t it be worthwhile?

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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