The “clean food” crowd is promoting only eating antibiotic free meat, or more precise, meat from animals that has never been treated with antibiotics. But why? What’s wrong with antibiotics? Aren’t they good? It seems that antibiotics have become the whipping boy in the natural food culture along with GMO.
What is “clean food”
It has nothing to do with whether you have washed your food or not, the term refers to food which is minimally processed.
I heard a commercial on the radio for Panera Bread Company (St. Louis Bread company for you folks in the midwest) and their “antibiotic free chicken”. People who would flock to such a place would no doubt not turn town a prescription of antibiotics if it was them or their child suffering from a cold or infection. Why isn’t “antibiotic free people” as big of a fad as “antibiotic free” meat?
Back before antibiotics were discovered (less than 100 years ago), people died from simple diseases that we now treat routinely with antibiotics. People who tout meat as being “antibiotic free”, probably use up a bottle of hand sanitizer within days of purchasing it. They sure as hell don’t want any contact with a germ, but will gladly eat meat that hasn’t been treated for bacteria.
It’s true that overuse of antibiotics can be an issue. Whenever antibiotics are prescribed, it is very important that the patient take all the medicine, but many times they quit after they start feeling better.
That means that there’s a chance that all of the problem bacteria wasn’t killed, and might even been made stronger and more resistant to the antibiotic. That means the next time they might need more antibiotic, or the prescription might not be enough to kill the infection.
This has the potential to create “super bugs”: Antibiotic resistant germs. Imagine what it was like in the early 20th century when a simple infection might mean death. This is the fear
Antibiotic free meat is costly to farmers
But this fear makes the assumption that farmers just routinely inject any and all of their stock with antibiotics without cause. That isn’t the case. Antibiotics are expensive, so why would a farmer take away from their bottom line for no reason?
Farms that say their meat is antibiotic free typically raise animals is separate sections. When an animal is diagnosed with something, they are treated with antibiotics and removed from the antibiotic free section and placed in the regular section.
The funny thing is, the animals that the farmer didn’t treat with antibiotics (and thus incurred a lower cost) are sold for a higher price than the regular stock.
No science behind the statements
The woo pitchers often make claims without any facts behind them. One example is this post from “The Grow Network” stating “scientists are sounding the alarm about the consequences of feeding these powerful medications to essentially healthy animals.”, and “…many scientists believe that feeding significant doses of antibiotics to livestock has dire rammifications (SIC) for both human health and modern medicine.”
Or this one from the Huffington Post: “If you’re a meat-eater, it’s better for your health and the planet to buy antibiotic-free meat and poultry.”
Neither of these statements cite any reference or scientific facts to back them up. I’m not saying they’re made up, but you can make your own conclusions.
Antibiotic free meat is the law
Something the anti-antibiotic crowd won’t tell you that the USDA requires all meat sold in the US to be free of antibiotics, or at least down to a safe level.
This article from the University of Minnesota states: “Less than 0.5% of all meat samples tested in 2018 contained detectable antibiotics.”
So if all meat sold in the US is antibiotic free, what is this crowd’s goal? Is it more anti large industry farms than it is anti antibotics? This type of crowd is often pushing against “Big” something.
Many of the sites also promote “farm to table”, and supporting “local farmers”. That’s another topic that I’ll tackle later. What makes a chicken raised down the street from me better than one from another state?
This controversy is more and more sounding like woo to me.
More to read:
The Effects on Human Health of Subtherapeutic Use of Antimicrobials in Animal Feeds. – Committee on Animal Health and the Committee on Animal Nutrition
Makes sense to me…