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.

"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...

Today 80 percent of the antibiotics used in the United States are fed to livestock. Theirs is a diet laced with low “subtherapeutic” doses of antibiotics, not to cure illness but to make the animals grow faster and survive cramped living conditions. The low doses kill many bacteria, but some develop mutations that make them immune to the same drugs that once destroyed them.

“It is very hard to prove that a specific antibiotic given to an animal for food production led to the development of a resistant bacterium in a specific patient,” said Stuart Levy, M.D., president of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics and a professor at Tufts University School of Medicine. “But it is a truism that antibiotic use leads to resistance, and the more antibiotics you use, the more resistance you get.”

By avoiding foods from animals that have been fed antibiotics, Macario believes she is doing more than just protecting her family from direct exposure to these “superbugs.” She is attacking the plague at its source.

Next: The Rise of Antibiotic Use in Farming »

Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner