What does the fast food chains Wendy’s®, Subway® and McDonalds® all have in common? All three of these fast food chains are either serving or have pledged to serve antibiotic free meat within the next 2 years. This a major step in the right direction towards giving the general public access to healthier food options.
But what is wrong with eating meat from chicken and beef that have been given low doses of antibiotics in their feed?
When low dose antibiotics are fed to animals, the bacteria in and around the animals are exposed to the antibiotic and many of the bacteria dies. But there are always some bacteria that the drug can’t kill, and those bacteria survive and proliferate. These antibiotic resistant bacteria have been nick-named “Superbugs”. We have so many superbug strains throughout the world now that it is threatening the health of everyone that come in contact with the various superbug bacteria.
Scientists have known about this issue for forty years. One of the first to raise the alarm was Dr. Stuart Levy, a physician and director of Tuft University’s Center for Adaption Genetics and Drug Resistance. Dr. Levy published the results of his study on the impact of adding antibiotics to the feed of a farms chickens in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1976. In that study, he concluded that in just a week of a farms chickens being fed food supplemented with tetracycline, the chickens developed tetracycline-resistant bacteria, as did the farm workers who were caring for them.
The meat industry did not want to change their practices though. Throughout the years, the meat industry maintained that its use of antibiotics in livestock was necessary in order to help the animals stay healthy and to keep the price of meat low.
Numerous health organizations including the American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, Infectious Disease Society of America and the World Health Organization have put pressure on the meat industry to provide antibiotic free meat. With the fast food organizations now on board, the meat industry is further being forced to change their current farming practices.
In the meantime, if you are a meat eater, here are two things that you can do to keep your food supply safe.
- Purchase antibiotic-free meat and poultry from your supermarket. Look for the labels “organic” or “no antibiotics”.
- Do some research into finding out whether the restaurant you frequent serves antibiotic-free meat. If the restaurant doesn’t, consider eating somewhere else.
By implementing these two simple steps, you will reduce your risk of exposure to antibiotic resistant bacteria in your food supply and help you to maintain optimum health.