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
Antibiotic-Free Food Labels to Look For
Three Food Safety Tips to Avoid Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria In Your Food
Green Choices: Meat & Poultry Buyer’s Guide
What Makes a Better Chicken
Supermarket Chickens vs. Pasture-Raised Chickens
The Dirty Dozen Plus: 14 Foods You Should Buy Organic
Food label lies: how to sort truth from hype
A Natural Alternative to Farming Without Antibiotics
If you heard that the FDA called the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in meat animals a serious threat to public health, you’re probably thinking: yes. But by the time meat (beef, poultry, pork) and dairy products reach your plate, there are no antibiotics present. If a farmer treats an animal with antibiotics, the farmer can’t use its meat or milk until after a set waiting period, during which the antibiotics clear the animal’s system.
Concerns about treating animals with antibiotics have more to do with the consequences of farmers’ increased antibiotics use. Using too many antibiotics is resulting in more antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals, says a 2008 review in The Annual Review of Public Health. “Antibiotic-resistant pathogens in food-producing animals can be transferred to people who handle or eat contaminated meat or milk,” says Siobhan DeLancey of the FDA. This means if someone is infected, drug treatment will be less effective. Antibiotics can also get into soil and water, increasing our exposure and compromising their effectiveness.
Bottom line: Choosing meat and dairy labeled “certified humane” or “USDA organic” ensures you’re buying products raised without antibiotics. You might also see the terms “no antibiotics administered” or “raised without antibiotics,” but they’re not regulated. Lastly, follow good food-safety practices when handling meat.