Antibiotic Awareness Week started Nov. 12. Antibiotic resistance happens when antibiotics can no longer treat infections. That means germs are not killed and, instead, can grow and spread. Antibiotic resistance leads to higher treatment costs, longer recovery time and may even lead to death.

Antibiotic use in animals can affect human health. All animals carry bacteria in their gut. Antibiotics given to animals will cause most gut germs to die, but resistant germs can survive and grow. If animals are close together, those germs can spread.

People get sick when they handle or eat food contaminated with resistant bacteria. Salmonella is one type of bacteria spread through food. This germ causes about 100,000 AR infections in the United States each year.

Preventing the spread of food-borne infections due to AR is challenging, but there are several steps people can take to avoid transferring resistant germs:

Wash hands and counters often. Germs can survive in many places in the kitchen. That includes cutting boards and utensils.

Do not cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat, seafood and eggs separate from produce and cooked foods.

Cook food to the right temperature. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat. Checking the color and texture of meat does not tell you if it is safe to eat.

Keep refrigerators below 40 degrees. Germs can grow in many foods within two hours if not refrigerated.

Jennifer Liao, antibiotic resistance coordinator, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Augusta

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