Drugged up meat

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Choose organic if you don't want a whack of antibiotics on your dinner plate. 

I have dramatically reduced my meat consumption for several reasons. I won’t go into it right now but I probably will soon. One of the main reasons was that the animals are just too sick and they are making us sick as well. Many esteemed medical and scientific groups have called out against agricultural and animal antibiotic use because of the dire health implications to humanity. We are getting to the point where our miraculous drugs don't work when we're sick and really need them. A lot of it has to do with the meat on your plate. 

Thirty-five years ago scientists were noticing that farmers and farm animals were showing signs of antibiotic resistance [1]. The antibiotics used in agriculture may be significantly contributing to the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that cause infections in patients in hospitals. Scientists looked for a connection and found that low levels of beta-lactam antibiotics, a drug class commonly used in both clinical and agricultural settings, accelerated the growth and spread of the (bad) bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.

The effect was most noticeable among multidrug-resistant strains of bacteria known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. MRSA spread rapidly when exposed to low levels of antibiotics, such as used with animals. The MRSA wasn’t killed by the antibiotics—it actually thrived. Staphylococcus aureus and particularly MRSA continues to be a major cause of infections in medical settings such as health clinics and hospitals [2].

In 2017 the US FDA initiated a strategy on Microbial Resistance. They call for a more judicious use of antibiotics in animals; use less of the drugs that are important for treating human disease, stop using it in feed or drinking water of food-producing animals and stop them being sold over-the-counter by restricting them to veterinarian use only. The problem I have though is that this is a voluntary strategy, meaning they are requesting change but not demanding it. If you want to get into more detail, check out this excellent PBS Frontline discussion about antibiotics and meat - Is Your Meat Safe? 

Until the pharmaceutical companies and government make low-antibiotic use in food-raised animals mandatory,  I suggest you source grass-fed, which tips your good fats higher in Omega 3s. When you choose organic, you are guaranteeing antibiotic-free meat. If an animal on an organic farm needs medical treatment with antibiotics, that animal cannot be sold as organic (in the USA and Canada) [3]. 

Befriend a rancher. Call them and ask about their farming and slaughter practices. If you’re going to eat meat, do it with a conscience. These three online services support farming that is more humane and less drugged up.

Moink Box

Eat Wild

Butcher Box


 

Endnotes

[1] C. L. Ventola, “The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis,” Pharmacy and
Therapeutics 40, no. 4 (April 2015): 277–83.

[2] Jeffrey B. Kaplan, Era Izano, Prerna Gopal, Michael Karwacki,
Sangho Kim, Jeffrey Bose, Kenneth Bayles, and Alexander Horswill,
“Low Levels of β-Lactam Antibiotics Induce Extracellular DNA
Release and Biofilm Formation in Staphylococcus aureus,” mBio 3, no.
4 (July/August 2012): e00198–12. Published online July 31, 2012, doi:
10.1128/mBio.00198-12.

[3] Rob Wallbridge on The AgChat Foundation. "Let's talk about antibiotics and organic animal care". http://agchat.org/lets-talk-antibiotics-organic-animal-care/

accessed Aug 3, 2018.