Antibiotics in Meat – It Really Does Matter
Nutrition people write and talk about choosing pasture-raised meats fed organic, non-hormone laden food, not given antibiotics and other hormones. But, it costs more and possibly makes you one of Dr. Oz’s “elitists”. It’s often hard to know where to prioritize. Here’s what you need to know to make an educated decision.
Antibiotics Used In Meat Production
David A. Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 1990 to 1997, warned that antibiotic-resistant pathogens in livestock are on the rise in an article for the New York Times. He explained that antibiotics are routinely fed to livestock not only to fight infection, but to promote unhealthy (though profitable) weight gain.
The link between antibiotic use in livestock and antibiotic-resistant disease is so clear that the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed has been banned in Europe since 2006. Yet, in the United States confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) used 29 million pounds of antibiotics in 2009. By 2011 reports indicate nearly 30 million pounds pounds of antibiotics. To put this in perspective, that is about 80% of all reported antibiotic sales that year being used in confined animal feeding operations for the meat we will then choose to eat.
Adding insult to injury, on December 22, 2011, the FDA posted a notice in the Federal Register that it was no longer planning on trying to reduce the use of antibiotics in agricultural animal feed, even though the FDA had been supporting the plan since 1977. So, now the antibiotics will be allowed in full force. Guess it’s time to follow the money again . . .
Antibiotics – Who’s Behind Them
I doubt there’s any surprise here but the drug and food industries are doing everything they can to block proposed legislation that would limit the use of antibiotics. Unfortunately, it seems both the FDA and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions are willing to go along and not look at the evidence of links between antibiotic usage in animals and human health.
Proposals continue to be blocked. Recently one from Senators Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Dianne Feinstein, which would have required the FDA to report the data on agricultural antibiotics that it already collects but does not disclose. Another proposal by Representatives Henry Waxman and Louise Slaughter would have introduced an even more comprehensive measure but there are no Republican supporters.
Antibiotics – How To Avoid Them
The only way to avoid this hidden source of antibiotics is to make sure you’re buying organic, grass-fed, free-range meats and organic pasture-raised chickens. Non-medical use of antibiotics is not permitted in organic farming. Check into local farmers and butchers. Try a community supported agriculture program. Buy on-line from groups such as Full Circle Bison Ranch http://www.fullcirclebisonranch.com/ or US Wellness Meats http://www.grasslandbeef.com/StoreFront.bok or Grassfed Traditions http://www.grassfedtraditions.com/.
One of the best resources is Eat Wild. Here you will find a directory of farms listing more than 1,300 pasture-based farms, with more farms being added each
week. It is the most comprehensive source for grass-fed meat and dairy products
in the United States and Canada http://www.eatwild.com/products/