Your grocery shopping may be impacting your doctor’s visit
Farmers have been administering antibiotics to pigs, chickens and cows for decades. While dosing sick animals is one way to keep the meat safe to eat, farmers also give antibiotics to healthy animals. This overuse has potential health risks for the humans who consume this meat.
Farming and Antibiotics
Farmers use antibiotics to treat infections and to prevent illnesses that are largely caused by the harsh, crowded living conditions and unnatural diets of the animals. Perhaps the biggest incentive for administering antibiotics is that the continuous use of low-dose antibiotics, i.e. sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics, will produce bigger and fatter animals. This means that farmers get more meat per animal, which drives up profits and increases production. What’s really troubling is that the actual amount of antibiotics administered to food animals is unknown because the meat industry doesn’t publicize this information.
How it Impacts You
This June, the Food and Drug Association (FDA) confirmed that eating the meat of animals treated with antibiotics poses a “serious public health threat.” This is because treating animals with antibiotics can lead the animals to develop drug resistance. Then, when people consume the animal’s meat or dairy, they may become sick with food borne illness, like campylobacter, salmonella, MRSA, influenza virus and E. coli.
The developing resistance to life-saving antibiotic drugs is no small matter. For more than 50 years antibiotics have played a major role in health care, and the general overuse of these drugs is also impacting the effectiveness of treatment. As humans become more resistant to antibiotics, doctors are forced to find other, more severe methods of treatment. This is why Canada and countries in the European Union have already banned sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in food animals.
What You Can Do Now
There are steps you can take right now to reduce the risk of becoming infected or resistant to antibiotics from your dinner plate.
The food industry is dependent on the consumer. They will follow the spending habits of Americans who demand a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. To vote with your wallet, avoid buying “regular” meats and dairy products, especially products from BHT cows that receive antibiotics, because their udders become so engrossed that they drag on the barn floor, causing the milk to contain cow pus, blood, and pesticides. Instead, peruse your grocery store for organic and antibiotic- and hormone-free meat and dairy. These products are healthier for you and the animal because farmers keep the animals healthier living conditions and feed them natural grass- or plant-based diets instead of typical corn- and grain-filled diets. Another option is to buy vegetarian products. This will reduce both your antibiotic resistance and your carbon footprint in one step. You also may donate to organizations like the Humane Society’s Factory Farming Campaign and Farm Animal Welfare. Support the FDA’s guidance, which allows antibiotics to improve the health of an animal, but not the way it grows or feeds, issued in late June. If farmers don’t comply, the FDA will issue new regulations. Take action by contacting your senator and state representatives, asking them to support the antibiotic ban. To find your senator and representative, visit http://www.azleg.gov/.