Antibiotics are mixed into the feed of animals such as cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys, that live in overcrowded conditions which are conducive to the spread of disease. It is estimated that roughly 70 percent of total U.S. antibiotics are fed to these animals to make them grow faster and put on more weight with less feed.
Antimicrobial resistance is one of our most serious health threats of today. Antimicrobials are used to treat bacterial infections.
Infections from resistant bacteria are now too common, and some pathogens have even become resistant to multiple types or classes of antibiotics. Consumers are becoming more aware of the danger of non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feed; thus you now see “raised without antibiotics” signs on many products in the supermarkets.
So what else should you look out for when purchasing meat at the grocery store? Be educated about the food labeling process. The purchase of “organic foods”—animals and crops grown without pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones—has reportedly been increasing up to 13 percent a year and is expected to continue at double-digit growth through 2018.
How do you know a product is really organic? Government organic food labeling regulations went into effect in 2002. The USDA put in place a set of national standards that foods labeled “organic” must meet, whether grown in the United States or imported. If growers do not follow the regulations, they can be fined up to $10,000 for each violation. A government-approved certifier is supposed to inspect the farm where organic food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules. As a result, if you see the USDA Organic seal on the item, it is at least 95 percent organic.
So how do you avoid these antibiotic-infused foods? Be sure to purchase grass fed organic beef, or free range organic chicken. Be educated about your food source and use the labels as a resource to guide you to a healthier, more sustainable life. Want help learning how to choose your food wisely? Join the Drishti Plan.