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Antibiotics in Your Food: What's Causing the Rise in Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Our Food Supply and Why You Should Buy Antibiotic-Free Food

By Barry Estabrook, "Growing Resistance," May/June 2013

As the use of antibiotics in farming and raising livestock has increased, new antibiotic resistant bacteria, or "superbugs" are emerging. Here's what you need to know about antibiotics in your food and eating antibiotic-free food.


READER'S COMMENT:
"To suggest that there is only "one real solution" is a rather limited point of view. Perhaps that solution is the only one for you, but that does not make it ipso facto for everyone. I am a omnivore, eat meat sparingly and when I do I...

Last fall I flew halfway across the country to go grocery shopping with Everly Macario. We set out from her second-story apartment in Hyde Park near the University of Chicago and walked to the supermarket to buy a couple of rib steaks that Macario planned to serve to her husband and two children, ages 7 and 13. Macario, who is 46, holds a doctorate in public health from Harvard University and has spent decades as a consultant, working to prevent deaths from chronic conditions such as cancer and cardiac disease.

Yet she believes that what she buys—or more accurately, refuses to buy—in the supermarket is the most important action she takes, not only for her family’s health but for the health of every person in this country. “I am determined that no product from an animal that has been fed antibiotics will ever enter my home,” she said as we walked along the meat counter peering at beef, poultry and pork. “I look for labels that read ‘certified organic,’ ‘no antibiotics’ or ‘raised without antibiotics.’”

It’s not the antibiotics themselves that are troubling: animals pass the drugs through their systems long before they are slaughtered and animal products are tested for traces of antibiotics. What really worries Macario is the increasing wave of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that might be traveling on her food.

The Food & Environment Reporting NetworkThis article was produced in collaboration with the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an independent, non-profit news organization producing investigative reporting on food, agriculture and environmental health.

Next: The Dangers of the Increase in Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Food »



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