Antibiotic Injections for Cows
For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration released a report on antibiotic use in factory farms. The total number given is at nearly 80% of all the antibiotics used in the country, some 29,000,000 pounds of drugs were given to livestock in 2009. They are primarily used to prevent illness, rather than treat it.
It was once common practice to treat infected animals with appropriate medications, it is now an industry standard to load these animals full of antibiotics before any disease sets in, as a preventative measure. That is a similar action to your mother giving you penicillin each day before school to prevent an infection.
As of April, 2012, the FDA now states a veterinarian must write a prescription for antibiotics, which is an attempt to remedy this problem. The only assurance you really have that the meat is free of antibiotics is to buy organic meat that is stamped with the government seal.
Antibiotics are suppose to be given to sick cows, and the following antibiotics are commonly used: penicillin, tetracycline, ceftiofur, florfenicol, tilmicosin, enrofloxacin, and tulathromycin.
Antibiotics Given to Cattle
Farmers Giving Antibiotics
Farmers have used antibiotics for decades, even in healthy animals, to promote faster growth and prevent disease that could sicken livestock held in confined quarters. The farmers give lower doses to healthy animals and higher doses of antibiotics to sick animals. The benefit: is cheaper, more plentiful meat for consumers.
However, a dispute has erupted over a federal proposal, which recommends antibiotics only when animals are actually sick. Public health experts in recent years say overuse and misuse of antibiotics poses serious public health threats by creating new strains of bacteria that are difficult to treat in both animals and humans.
Roast Beef Sliced
Meat Industry Beliefs
The meat industry argues that the draft guidelines from the FDA are premature. They believe there's not enough evidence to show a clear link between use of antibiotics in livestock and health problems in humans.
The Congressional relations director for the American Farm Bureau is Kelli Ludlum. He stated," what the FDA is doing, trying to restrict the use of antibiotics and require additional veterinary oversight, goes beyond where the science, their own science has gone." In the video below you will see the meat industry's opinion.
Why are antibiotics used in livestock production
Medical and Public Health Opinions
This past summer, the FDA issued draft guidelines, which recommended using antibiotics only in acute medical situations and under the supervision of a veterinarian. The guidelines state there is a clear risk to human health, are only recommendations but a first step toward possible regulations to limit the use of antibiotics in the United States.
The medical community is unhappy with the FDA recommendations stating, they are weak and voluntary. After decades of study the FDA should just issue appropriate regulations.
Medical and public health experts say the antibiotic issue has been studied in United States, Canada, Europe and other countries for 40 years. The studies led to the European Union issuing rules more than 10 years ago limiting the use of antibiotics in livestock. Europe adopted even more stringent guidelines in 2006.
Chicken to Roast
Fear of Infection
Many are paying attention to the bacteria that could be developing on farms because of the overuse of antibiotics and then, resulting in infections in humans. It is worth repeating that the more we are exposed to antibiotics, they more resistant bacterias that may develop. They do affect the meat, eggs and dairy products we buy; the less effective those drugs will be when we really need them.
On farms they already have difficulty in treating strains of E. Coli and salmonella, which has evolved in recent years.
CDC director Thomas R. Frieden wrote that "there is compelling evidence of a clear link between antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic resistance in humans." Tom Chiller, a CDC medical director, stated this: "Scientists have documented studies and data that show when you use antibiotics in animals, it creates resistant bacteria."
Studies show that the resistant bacteria survive on retail meats. The best evidence we have for the link between animals and humans is a study from Denmark. In the study, a growth – "promoting antibiotic was used only in animals and not humans. The animals developed a resistant bacteria that went through the meat supply and showed up causing human infection." Despite this evidence the meat industry remains skeptical of such studies, which do not clearly identify animals as the source of antibiotic resistance in humans.
I certainly hope the the new FDC guidelines will establish firm guidelines to stop the farmers from giving antibiotics to well animals. We already know that giving human beings too many antibiotics have caused super-bugs to grow that are difficult to treat. At least meat is marked today if it is free of antibiotics.
Europe is 10 years ahead of us in stopping the antibiotic use. The Denmark's study is proof that antibiotics should be used only in sick animals. For your health, if you eat meat the safest buy is organic meat and free range chicken.
The problem is organic meat is a little bit pricey for some people. It is better to have some meatless meals during the week and fish, than the organic meat becomes more affordable.
The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.