LYMEPOLICYWONK: Antibiotic Resistance—Holy Cow, It’s the Beef!
Antibiotic resistant infections killed more than 65,000 people in the US in 2009. But 70% of antibiotics, which can make animals grow faster, went to cows, chickens and pigs last year. Antibiotics in livestock provide a breeding ground for antibiotic resistant infections that can be passed on to humans. According to a recent AP article, animal fed antibiotics “can develop germs that are immune to the antibiotics. The germs then rub into scratches on farmworkers' arms, causing oozing infections. They blow into neighboring communities in dust clouds, run off into lakes and rivers during heavy rains, and are sliced into roasts, chops and hocks and sent to our dinner tables.”
Drug resistant bacteria are now common in beef, chicken and pork sold at the grocery. According to a study published in the CDC journal, 20% of all human cases of a deadly antibiotic resistant staph infection in the Netherlands can be traced to an animal strain. According to Ellen Silbergeld at Johns Hopkins University, the use of antibiotics in livestock is a “major driver of antimicrobial resistance worldwide.”
The FDA, CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture have recently declared drug-resistant diseases resulting from antibiotic use in animals a “serious emerging concern .” The FDA says without new laws its options are limited. However, drug companies aggressively lobby against any limitations. The use of antibiotics should be reserved to treat infectious diseases.
You can follow additional post on Lyme disease policy matters at lymepolicywonk.org. Lorraine Johnson, JD, MBA can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- January 11, 2010 at 3:56 pm
I am getting this right?
Antibiotic in perfectly healthy animals, but lets ration them for the humanâ€™s that are truly ill.
What a lovely world we live in!
- June 18, 2010 at 7:19 am
Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!
- January 5, 2011 at 3:15 pm
Wow, I had never seen numbers on this type of thing… I always just "knew" antibiotics in animals was bad, but I never knew it like this. Why are they given antibiotics in the first place? Just the same as with humans — if they get sick, they're given an antibiotic? The difference here of course being that it remains in their system when they're butchered, unlike humans who have time to flush them out. So weird.
- February 2, 2016 at 11:09 pm
I wasn’t able to get the whole article up so if I repeat anything that was in it, sorry. I am a dairy farmer and we use antibiotics for cows and calves who are sick. We do not use antibiotic treated feed. The antibiotics used for sick cows have withhold times before the meat or milk can go into the food chain. For slaughter it’s 30 days and for milk it’s 3 days and tests are done to check for residue.
A milk sample is taken at the farm before it goes on the truck and another is taken at the plant. If a farmer ruins a truckload of milk by letting antibiotic tainted milk onboard, he/she has to pay for the whole truckload. Milk from treated cows is thrown away until it tests clean. Antibiotic treated feed is not fed to adult dairy cows because it passes to the milk. You’d never be able to sell it. Your milk is safe.
I don’t know as much about the feedlots who use antibiotic treated feed for beef cows. I don’t know if they have to stop feeding the treated feed 30 days before slaughter or not. The level of antibiotics in feed may be lower than what is used to treat sick cows and may be considered safe by the government. I agree antibiotics should not be put in feed but I defend its use for treating sick animals.
If you are concerned you can eat grass-fed and/or organic beef. Organic beef is never given any antibiotics. Grass-fed beef, if it does not say antibiotic-free, may have had antibiotics if sick, but would never have the treated feed. Organic milk comes from cows never given antibiotics.
- April 8, 2011 at 3:29 pm
"Why are they given antibiotics in the first place?"
For one, they are raised in an environment that often does not allow the animal to move around because they are packed in so tight (so they are stuck with sick animals, wallow in feces, etc). Then, they are fed products which are either heavily mutated foods, or the remains of other dead animals which came from similarly sickness-inducing environments. They literally *NEED* the antibiotics in order to keep the animals alive.
It's disgusting to see, and to think about eating. It's the same with pasteurization though…they never had to do that 200 years ago at all and they were fine…it's because of the horrible conditions the animals are kept in that *REQUIRE* pasteurization just to kill off the toxins which are introduced by such greedy conditions.
Be careful what you take into your body…
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