Antibiotics In Meat Animals

Today I found the following email in my Inbox and I really have to wonder about the logical skills of the people that spread this kind of information Here’s what CREDO Action had to say about using antibiotics in factory farm animals.

The “superbugs” are here — in the supermarket meat aisle. According to the New York Times, scientists discovered MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant staph infection, in supermarket pork in Louisiana and Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, a brand new strain of MRSA was found earlier this year in US pigs— and pig farmers — raising fears of even more virulent, possibly deadly, strains arising soon.

The cause of this explosion of superbugs in livestock is clear — the routine administration of antibiotics to healthy animals in factory farms. The Union of Concerned Scientists determined that 70% of all antibiotics in the US are given to factory farm livestock — not to people, or even to sick animals.This dangerous practice invites the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.

In response to this crisis, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has introduced into the House of Representatives the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. PAMTA would restrict the use of sub-therapeutic doses of entire classes of antibiotics in farm animals and has the support of public health officials and agricultural experts alike.

I’d like to make a few points. Having lived near a feedlot when I was in my teens and 20’s in Wyoming, I saw what happened when preventative antibiotics were NOT used. Ever seen fifty sick cows with mucous all over their noses? One bug spreads very rapidly in close quarters. Those antibiotics need to be given regularly because once one animal is sick, in a matter of days it can spread to your entire herd.

Second, there CAN be more than one conclusion for finding MRSA in grocery store pork. Ever see the conditions in a slaughterhouse? Not exactly the most sterile considering it is acceptable to have a certain percentage of rat hair and rat feces in our food. MRSA could have been passed along from an employee in the early stages if the illness. In some slaughterhouses it is common practice to blend in meat from diseased animals with the meat from healthy animals.

Third, I would love to know why farmers and ranchers would waste money by administering “sub-therapeutic doses” of antibiotic to their animals. Traditionally antibiotics are dosed by weight of the animal. Ranchers don’t make as much money as people think so why would they throw away money by not properly dosing their animals?

There has been a movement in recent years to be more organic with our food. Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller (now, legally, simply Teller) on their show “Bullshit!” just did a show on the organic movement. I would highly recommend watching it. It’s educational in regards to the use of antibiotics in meat animals.


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