If you're a meat-eater, it's better for your health and the planet to buy antibiotic-free meat and poultry. That might be tough to do, given that 80 percent of the antibiotics in use are fed to animals raised for food to keep them growing faster and to prevent them from getting sick in crowded and unsanitary conditions.
A recent poll released by Consumer Reports found a majority of people polled want more access to antibiotic-free meat. Eighty-six percent of respondents want meat and poultry free from antibiotics to be available in their supermarkets, but only 57 percent were able to find it in their local market. Seventy-two percent of those polled were extremely concerned that the extensive use of antibiotics in animals is creating superbugs that cause illnesses antibiotics can't cure.
It's a legitimate concern because drug resistance is already here.
Bacteria are becoming more resistant to antibiotics, making it harder for doctors to treat human diseases, including tuberculosis and pneumonia. The misuse of antibiotics is leading to a "public health crisis," Urvashi Rangan, director of Consumer Safety at Consumer Reports told CBS News.
Here are three reasons to make the commitment to animals raised without antibiotics that you can share with family and friends.
1. Keep antibiotics effective for fighting disease
We need to keep our life-saving drugs effective for when people really need them. Overuse by agricultural companies to make animals grow faster or to cover up poor living conditions for the animals is certainly not worth jeopardizing our ability to take care of our kids, parents, neighbors and the world community. The editorial board of The Washington Post warned that more must be done to reverse the overuse of antibiotics in livestock before a new generation of superbugs is created. The effectiveness of these incredibly powerful drugs is being undermined every day we give them to animals.
2. Invest in healthy food for your family
Purchasing antibiotic-free meat and poultry from a supermarket or restaurant is one major contribution you can make toward making the food supply safer and keeping your family healthy. Consumer Reports found 60% of poll respondents said they would pay more for antibiotic-free meats; 37% would pay up to one dollar more per pound.
Unfortunately, labels on meat don't always make it clear when it is from animals raised without antibiotics. Look for meat labeled "organic" or "no antibiotics."
The labels "natural" or "antibiotic-free" are not meaningful when it comes to determining whether antibiotics are prohibited.
3. Consumer action is required to make antibiotic-free meat and poultry more widely available.
Most meat-producing companies, fast food restaurants and grocery store chains make and sell meats and poultry raised with antibiotics, according to a survey conducted by Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) in February. Be sure to check out Rep. Slaughter's list of food providers' antibiotic policies for an eye-opening understanding of how difficult it is to eat antibiotic-free meat and poultry when you're not cooking at home.
What can you do? Whether you're at the supermarket or eating out, check labels or ask your server whether the meat has been treated with antibiotics. And be sure to sign this petition from MomsRising asking Trader Joe's to source their meat only from animals raised without antibiotics.
Do you avoid eating meat from animals raised with antibiotics?