I know that approaching the meat case is overwhelming to most people. How are you supposed to pick a choice that’s going to benefit your health and the health of your family when you probably have never raised anything in that case?
The fact that all sorts of restaurants and brands are jumping on the bandwagon and boasting their products are ‘antibiotic free’ probably makes you weary of buying anything that isn’t labeled that way. Let’s face it – everything is labeled out the wazoo today.
I mean who wants to consume extra stuff in their meat? But here’s the truth – there are actually no antibiotics in any meat product you buy ever.
I hear it all the time “I buy antibiotic free because [insert farm animal here]s are pumped full of them and I don’t want that in my body.”
Why Do Farmers Use Antibiotics?
When your child is sick with a bacterial infection, do you seek medical attention from a local physician?
The answer is probably yes for many.
If so, why do you choose to treat them with antibiotics?
Because you want to help your child regain their health.
The exact same thing goes for farmers. When an animal is suffering from a bacterial infection they consult a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine to recommend treatment. They are trying to help that animal regain its health just like a parent who is administering antibiotics to a child with a bacterial infection.
As a parent do you do everything in your power to keep your child from being sick?
There are tons of preventative measures farmers take to ensure their animals are as healthy as possible. But sometimes an animal still becomes ill.
How Do Farmers Use Antibiotics?
If you’re imagining an animal ‘pumped full’ of antibiotics then this isn’t the case.
Just like when humans are prescribed antibiotics there are dosage requirements for the smallest and most effective dose and this is typically based upon the body weight of the animal.
Antibiotics are tools that farmers can use to help their animals when needed and also prevent the spread of disease to other animals.
Are They Safe for the Animals? What About Me?
Yes absolutely, we know this because not only are they approved by the Food and Drug Administration for initial use through rigorous evaluation and testing but they are also evaluated regularly to guarantee they are still safe and effective for the animals treated and humans that eventually will consume that meat.
Many are concerned about developing antibiotic resistance due to antibiotic use in livestock, but farmers are doing everything possible to prevent this. Not only is the agriculture community partnering with the Food and Drug Administration to voluntarily phase out antibiotics important to human health but humans and animals primarily use different classes more heavily.
How Do I Know they’re Not in My Meat?
So lets back up. I mentioned that farm animals are administered antibiotics at specific dosages.
In addition to this on the bottle of medication a withdrawal time is specified so that the farmer knows how much time must pass before the animal goes to slaughter.
Now you may ask, well what if for some reason an animal makes it to slaughter before the recommended withdrawal time on accident? Good question. That’s where the USDA FSIS (Food Safety and Inpection Services) Inspectors come into play. They’re testing your meat for antibiotic residue to guarantee that any meat that did happen to have antibiotic residue that could harm your health never enters the food chain.
What other labels are you unsure about at the grocery store? Comment below and I’d be happy to respond!