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Nothing done to curb health threat of antibiotics in your meat

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Red Meat

It really isn't any wonder that smart consumers are adopting a vegetarian diet. Our meat is laden with antibiotics. According to a new report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Sustainable Living, the result of industrial farming practices pose a public health threat that the government and meat industry seem to be ignoring.

Robert S. Lawrence, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, said in the new analysis that Congress and the USDA have failed to act on recommendations from a PEW commission report that was published 5 years ago.

Two of the issues highlighted at the time include the dangers of antibiotics used in animal farming, farm waste that spills antibiotic into the soil and waterways.

A major concern for pubic health is antibiotic resistance that happens in part from use in chickens and other farm animals. The other issue is over-prescribing of the drugs. Many household products such as soaps also contain antibacterials that has raised concern about contributing to the problem.

Considering the number of deaths from drug resistant infections that occur each year, the finding is important and agreeably a major public health concern.

Any health care provider can testify to the tragedy of lack of antibiotics available to treat emerging bacterium that mutate to escape treatment.

Lawrence says “There has been an appalling lack of progress" in addressing the problems.

Efforts to eliminate antibiotics that are also given in sub-therapeutic doses to plump up our meat have been met with resistance from the pharmaceutical industry and lobbyists.

The problem of using antimicrobial agents so freely was recently seen when antibiotic resistant salmonella was traced to Foster Farms chickens that sickened hundreds of people.

But that's not all.

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Meat sampling obtained by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found resistant strains of E.coli that comes from fecal waste in addition to salmonella and Campylobacter that sicken 3.6 million people each year.

Pig ears, beef jerky and other treats have also poisoned our pets from salmonella.

Last month the CDC released a report stating 23,000 people die from antibiotic resistance each year.

One of the recommendations was to gradually phase out antimicrobial use in animals by giving them only in cases of disease.

But Bob Martin, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future said what constitutes disease in an animal is too loosely defined to effect significant change.

The only way things are going to change is through public awareness and government intervention.

The authors write: "First, an engaged and informed public is a necessary cornerstone of any effort to facilitate meaningful change; this need is highlighted by recent industry attempts to eliminate transparency and limit public access to information about standard industry practices."

They also say Congress has to put public interest ahead of corporate interest, which they note has been a "struggle".

It should also be noted that the pork industry disagrees with the Hopkins report, saying there has been much progress made since 2008.

A report released Monday by the Animal Agriculture Alliance claims our food is more safe than it has even been. The purpose of the release from the cattle network is to "educate city dwellers" about modern agricultural practices and why they are necessary.

If you're concerned about what's in your meat or about how animals are raised for human consumption, consider a vegetarian diet. Another option is to refuse to buy meat raised on industrialized farms.


  1. Four bacteria laden meats you don't want on your plate
  2. How factory farming contributed to 2010 massive egg recall
  3. Antibiotics aren't the only health threat in your meat


We can all do something about our health. It is not a matter of waiting for our government to do it for us but to take action your self! Avoid all animal remains, and all animal juices.
Yes Hans, true. One barrier that is big is public awareness. That is a biggie!...: