|confined feeding lot - pigs | photo: Matthias M.|
It is a disturbing fact that 70% of the antibiotic use in this country is used by the agriculture industry for food animals. Not because the animals are already sick, but to keep them from getting sick due to the way they are raised; in unhealthy, high intensity settings. Unfortunately this means that when you consume conventionally raised animal products, meat, dairy, and eggs, you are getting a dose of antibiotics. Just a dose, not a full course.
As many of you know, when you are prescribed antibiotics by your doctor it is important that you finish the course. This is to make sure that all of the negative bacteria that you are trying to wipe out don't survive and learn to become resistant. Repeated minor doses of antibiotics teach bacteria how to grow stronger against them. Emerging evidence indicates that this overuse of antibiotics is behind the increase of antibiotic resistant bacteria such as MRSA.
According to information about the FDA found at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), "The agency has known for more than 30 years that mixing human antibiotics into animal feed poses a risk to human health. It first confirmed the connection back in 1977." They have filed a lawsuit in conjunction with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), Public Citizen, and Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), to try to get the FDA to follow through on it's own recommendations.
This is a situation that bears watching. We can only hope that the FDA will come to it's senses and follow the lead of the European Union which banned the use of antibiotics for growth purposes as far back as 2006. Until such time as this situation is corrected the only way to avoid ingesting animal products with antibiotics in them is to purchase organic (which is legislated to be antibiotic free) or you can try natural. The "natural" food label is not regulated or legislated however many manufacturers of products bearing this label do share on the packaging that they do not use antibiotics, hormones and preservatives. Read the label.