Thursday, June 21, 2012

Is This the Moment for Ridding Antibiotics from Our Food?

We never know what will be the next issue that receives widespread attention that forces drastic change, but a candidate surely has to be the administering of antibiotics to our healthy livestock.

As I've written previously, over 70 percent of the antibiotics used in the United States are given to healthy livestock (i.e. chickens, cattle and pigs) for the purposes of helping them get bigger faster and preventing disease in the insufferable conditions of commercial factory feedlots. Unfortunately, this use has fostered the growth of superbacteria resistant to the antibiotics that have served us so well for decades.

A boost for the movement to rid our food of antibiotics came earlier this week when Consumer Reports released a study, "Meat On Drugs: The Overuse of Antibiotics in Food Animals and What Supermarkets and Consumers Can Do to Stop It,” that has garnered quite a bit of publicity. Could this be the start of the groundswell?

Key findings from the study:
  • "A majority of respondents (86%) agreed that customers should be able to buy meat and poultry raised without antibiotics at their local supermarkets.
  • "Fifty-seven percent of respondents reported that meat raised without antibiotics is available in the meat section where they usually shop. Of those who do not have it in their local meat section, 82% said they would buy it if it were available.
  • "Studies over the last decade have indicated that raising meat and poultry without antibiotics could be accomplished at minimal cost to the consumer—about 5 cents extra per pound for pork and less than a penny per pound extra for chicken. More than 60% of respondents stated that they would be willing to pay at least five cents a pound more for meat raised without antibiotics. Over a third (37%) would pay a dollar or more extra per pound.
  • "The majority of respondents were extremely or very concerned about issues related to the use of antibiotics in animal feed, including the potential creation of 'superbugs' due to overuse of antibiotics, unsanitary and crowded conditions for livestock, human consumption of antibiotic residue, and environmental effects due to agricultural runoff containing antibiotics."
Concerned? Forward this to a friend. Tell family. Buy antibiotic-free meats, if possible. If the food market where you shop doesn't have antibiotic-free meat, tell the store manager you want it. I'm setting the over-under for the cessation of administering of antibiotics to healthy livestock at 2020. Anyone want to help the under come true?

Click here to read the report. It really is worth the couple minutes and it may change the way you think and shop.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Studies like this often concern me, because they don't actually provide you with the data they acquired.

For example:

"Fifty-seven percent of respondents reported that meat raised without antibiotics is available in the meat section where they usually shop. Of those who do not have it in their local meat section, 82% said they would buy it if it were available."

But how many of those respondents who said it was available to them actually buy it? Significantly less than 82% I would wager. The fact is, would you rather eat cheaper meat that has been treated with antibiotics, or pay more and increase the chances of food poisoning?

Everyone will claim to be concerned about things that could affect their health, or may in the future, but ultimately it will always come down to what you can afford.

Give me the cheapest, nastiest frozen chicken nuggets over a chicken breast because I simply cannot afford the latter, and the former has pretty much the same nutritional value. And it's foods like that, which are still safe, which have caused the average life expectancy to increase by double in the past 1 or 2 hundred years, and it's still increasing.

I personally see no need for concern. We have a better chance of living longer than any other humans in the history of mankind despite overpopulation and increased environmental hazards. Plus we have the education, shared knowledge and freedom to actually think about these things. But the simple fact is, organic farming (which incidentally often uses more harmful pesticides) and organic meat, costs more, uses more land, and simply cannot yield enough food to support the world population.