Like I said last year, there’s one little thing we can do this month to change our safety and preserve the value of antibiotics. And although not all families can be without antibiotics on Thanksgiving due to chronic or even acute medical problems, we all can eat smarter turkey. This is an easy awesome.

I partnered with Dr. Scott Weissman this week for “Get Smart” week. On Monday we explained that we’re dependent on antibiotics for all sorts of medical miracles (bone marrow transplants, joint replacements, healing from a large cut, routine surgery, and chemotherapy). We when use antibiotics responsibly in the clinic, in the hospital, in raising food and in our agriculture we’ll preserve antibiotics for decades to come. Trends show if we don’t, we’ll contribute to more and more resistant and untreatable infections. Tuesday we explained how antibiotics are used in agriculture, Wednesday how to be a squeaky wheel in the hospital (speak up, ask about antibiotics EVERY day), and yesterday we reviewed 5 tips for avoiding antibiotics in clinic. Today…..drumroll…….we provide something super easy to be smart:

Make an effort to buy an antibiotic-free turkey this Thanksgiving. Animal agriculture uses four times the amount of antibiotics as human medicine, and mostly in healthy animals for growth promotion or disease prevention on crowded farms. It’s also worth noting that safe preparation is also key.

When you buy and prepare raw meat (even if it’s organic and/or antibiotic-free) in your kitchen, you run the risk of contaminating the surfaces, utensils and cookware you’re using with bacteria. Raw meat products can transmit bacteria like E.Coli or salmonella but, also a more dangerous, antibiotic resistant bacteria. The CDC provides the following tips to keep you family’s food safer for consumption.

cdc safe food image

It will be a bit more challenging for the turkey industry to reduce antibiotic use like a few of the big players are doing in the chicken sector. Consumer demand has driven that change, so we need to push for the same thing across the entire meat and poultry industries by voting with our wallets. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving consumers should try to purchase turkey, ham or other meat products from producers who use antibiotics responsibly. The labels you can trust say: “No antibiotics administered,” “Raised without antibiotics,” “Global Animal Partnership,” “Animal Welfare Approved,” or “Organic.” ~Dr. Scott Weissman, Infectious Disease Expert

To help raise awareness take a pledge to purchase antibiotic-free turkeys this year. This is your chance for turkey greatness today. Boooooooom.

Once the holiday has passed, your company goes home, and you go back to your regular schedule, make sure you’ve read up on the Friends of Earth’s report, which graded America’s top restaurant chains’ policies and practices regarding antibiotics use and transparency in their meat and poultry supply chains, their commitment to purchasing meat raised without antibiotics, and ensuring safe tracing. Are the results surprising to you?

Chain Reaction

Click here for more on antibiotic stewardship.