Demanding Drug-Free Meat*
After years of scientific evidence, consumers embrace antibiotic-free meat
For over thirty years there has been evidence that the antibiotics used in food-producing animals have negative health consequences for humans. Commonly used by commercial farmers since the 1950’s to increase productivity and cull the spread of disease in the overcrowded environments their animals are raised in, these antibiotics encourage the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that pose increasing threats to human health.
Despite mounting evidence that antibiotics in animal feed contribute to the spread of dangerous disease, the FDA has done nothing to reverse the trend. Though a recent court decision is forcing the FDA to reevaluate its position on antibiotics, they are unfortunately in most of the meat we consume each and every day, making it important to take another look at the meat you eat as you focus on becoming healthier after weight loss surgery.
The Problem with Antibiotics in Meat
Animal antibiotic use accounts for about 80 percent of total antibiotic use in the United States. Because these antibiotics are very similar to those consumed by humans, their increased usage allows bacteria to evolve in ways that make them able to withstand our methods of fighting them off. This has led to the development of diseases like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which infects more than 94,000 people in the U.S. every year and causes 18,000 deaths. The added annual cost of national health care caused by these antibiotic resistant strains is an estimated $16.6 to 26 billion.
Drug-Free Meat: The New Popular Opinion
The scientific community has long been in agreement about the negativity of antibiotics in food animals and popular opinion is beginning to reflect this. In a nationwide survey, a consumer advocacy group called Consumers Union found that 86 percent of Americans supported more antibiotic-free meat choices in grocery stores, while 60 percent said they would be willing to pay more for it.
The group also sent secret shoppers to 136 grocery stores in 23 states to examine the availability of antibiotic-free meat. They found that some chains provided more drug-free options than others, and though antibiotic and organic options have long been sold at a higher price than their conventional counterparts, many antibiotic-free cuts were comparably priced.
Though meat advocacy groups have fired back against claims of the dangers of antibiotic resistance, the science behind the problem is very clear. The fact that a majority of consumers are beginning to embrace the idea shows that the message of the danger has spread, which should put more pressure on the FDA to remove its approval for antibiotic use in animals.
Still, making the change to completely antibiotic-free meat will take many years, meaning that ending the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria falls on the shoulders of the consumer. To reduce the risk posed to you and those around you, the best option is to buy meat that contains no antibiotic content. Fortunately, Consumers Union found that many grocery stores sell antibiotic-free options that are not much more expensive than conventional options, making it easy and cost-effective to incorporate them into your diet.
Though there is no strict regulation on packaging antibiotic-free meat, a close look at the labeling will usually tell you whether or not the meat is free of drugs. If unsure, buy organic meat, which prohibits the use of any such additives.
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*Weight loss surgery results vary between individuals depending on the initial weight, medical conditions and adherence to prescribed treatments. Speak to Dr. Bass about the results you can expect.