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Should you be worried about antibiotics in your meat?

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., November 4, 2010 - 11:44am

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Brierley asks: What type of meat and poultry do you buy—and why?


I don't know where to start with all the incorrect information that is in this article. As a rancher let me share some logic and facts with you. First of all antibiotics are not given to animals that would not be healthy without them. Just like people, animals are given antibiotics if they have an infection for some reason. Typically they are given one or two doses, much less than you get when you go to the doctor. Antibiotics are expensive and it is labor intensive to get an animal into a spot where they can be treated. Ranchers don't just do it for fun. Also cattle are not like your pets that you can put on a leash or tether as the article stated. At the age of 1 year old, they weigh about 1,000 pounds. We don't chain them up in individual pens on a regular basis. Cows and bulls spend their lives as free range animals, grazing in pastures that are hundreds of acres in size. In the U.S. plots of land that are hundreds of acres in size are usually very dry, so the chances of manure tainted with antibiotics getting into the water system is very unlikely. In colder climates during a few months of the year, mother cows and bulls are fed hay, which is a form of grass. They are not fed manure. Would you feed your family human waste? How ridiculous. Now for a quick lesson on cattle. Mother cows usually give birth to one calf per year. That calf is raised by it's mother's side on pasture and hay until it is 9 months to a year old. Those calves are then weaned and placed in a feed lot to be fattened for meat. They are kept in pens, but they have plenty of room to move around and exercise throughout the pen. They don't develop muscle which makes good meat if they don't get exercise. They are feed rations made up of hay, corn, and grain, all crops which are raised in a very similar manner to grass. These feed lots are highly regulated and monitored. Owners pay a good price for the calves they place in their feedlots, they only want healthy animals that will thrive and mature quickly. Between 12 and 18 months of age, they reach a size and weight to be slaughtered for meat. The feed that is fed to these animals is very expensive and feedlots do not want sickly, weak animals that will take a long time to mature because they will require more feed, time, etc. before they can be sold for a profit so the cycle can repeat itself. We love our lifestyle and we love our animals, but the bottom line is we are a business and we must make money to stay in business. It is in our best interest to have healthy, thriving animals. If we really did the things these articles say that we do, we would be out of business because we could not meet our goals of healthy, thriving animals with the conditions these articles outline. Anyone who reads these ridiculous claims can apply some common sense and realize these claims are not accurate. If you want to know the real truth, just ask a farmer or rancher. We will be happy to answer your questions with the truth, and many of us would be happy to show you how we run our business. You are our customers and we want to give you the safest, healthiest product we can, so you will remain our customers, and we can continue to do what we love to do.


09/12/2013 - 7:20pm

Many farmers have made it common practice to give animals antibiotics to ensure they are healthy, even if the animal would not otherwise be healthy. The Food and Drug Administration, however, will be limiting some of this process in an effort to keep human antibiotic resistance from growing. Article source: Animal antibiotic use partially banned by FDA


01/06/2012 - 5:20am

Okay, explain the antiobotics in the animals food supply?? What they stop eatting before they are butchered?


11/18/2010 - 2:44pm

That doesn't take into account the antibiotics in the animal's waste which then get into the ecosystem. So much of the antibiotic is excreted from the animal's system that it is a concern. Other animals are fed manure that can contain antibiotics. Are those animals kept out of the food supply until any ingested anitbiotics are gone?

There are measures farms can take to reduce the impact on the surrounding environment, suche as plant buffers. This science daily article discusses that.

The run-off from animal waste can also enter the water supply where the antibiotics are not completely removed during treatment.


11/18/2010 - 1:27pm

Hi Brierley,

When I heat up chicken in the microwave, I get rid of all the fat - as well as a blob of melten-plastic looking stuff that is not a natural part of the chicken. It looks like chemical-like industrial waste to me. I throw that away with the fat.

If I do not heat up the chicken in the microwave and instead cook it in a pot with water, etc, I would be eating that blob of industrial waste: all of it. A huge amount per annum.

What is that stuff? Do you have an idea?

Kindest regards

Nicolaas Smith


11/05/2010 - 6:16am

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