We’ve all heard tales of doctors over-prescribing antibiotics to their patients, often for viral illnesses (the common cold, for example) for which antibiotics are not even effective. Even so, humans consume a mere fraction of all the antibiotics in the United States. The rest? Well, we feed that to good ol’ Bessie, naturally.
Photo by JelleS
Depending on the source, a reported 70 – 80% of all antibiotics in the United States are fed in low doses to healthy farm animals with the goal of staving off illness and speeding growth. This is despite the overwhelming (and long-standing) evidence that doing so breeds super bugs – bacteria resistant to antibiotics, which are growing more prevalent and ever more dangerous to humans.
After 30 years of fighting for stricter controls (the FDA acknowledged the link between antibiotics and super bugs waaaaaaay back in the ’70s), there may be hope on the horizon. A suit has been filed against the FDA by environmental and public health organizations in an attempt to force the agency to ban the “therapeutic” use of antibiotics in farm animals.
In the meantime, opt for certified organic meats whenever possible.
This excellent article by Barry Estabrook details just how much evidence the FDA has, and is ignoring.