Using antibiotics on the farm to raise animals contributes to the production of antibiotic–resistant germs or “superbugs.” All animals carry bacteria in their intestines and on their bodies. Giving antibiotics to animals will kill large amounts of bacteria, changing their microbiome (<–good explanation here) and regular “good” bacteria too. Because 60% of the antibiotics used in animals are also used to treat human diseases, with time when antibiotics are used routinely, the bacteria become resistant, survive and multiply. If those resistant bacteria are transmitted to people, we don’t have as many medicines to eradicate them. Therefore, risks develop to humans when these “superbugs” thrive in animals and are transmitted through our food source. Over time, more and more infections carried in the food we eat will lack proper treatments. What we choose to eat will shape our risk.
Susceptible and resistant animal pathogens can reach humans through the food supply, by direct contact with animals, or through environmental contamination. American Academy of Pediatric Technical Report
Antibiotics used for infections in animals should be encouraged but antibiotics used to promote rapid growth and weight gain in animals likely should not (overuse). The majority of tonnage of antibiotics used in raising animals are often used for growth promotion and efficiency meaning they are used to keep meat cheaper, not necessarily safer. Hard to find clear data on exactly what % is used for disease treatment and what % is used for growth.
Antibiotics resistance is considered one of the major threats to the world’s health. American Academy of Pediatric Technical Report
How Bacteria In Animals Gets To Our Children
When animals are slaughtered and processed for human consumption, the bacteria they carry can contaminate the meat or other animal products. These bacteria can also get into the environment and may spread to fruits, vegetables or other produce that is irrigated with contaminated water. People can get exposed to resistant bacteria from animals when they:
- Handle or eat meat or produce contaminated with a resistant bacteria
- Come into contact with animal poop
To be clear, the problem is not antibiotic residues in the meat (which is restricted by federal law), as much as it is about (1) antibiotic residues entering the water supply and food chain through agricultural run-off or as manure sprayed on crops, and (2) antibiotic-resistant bacteria contaminating the meat and produce that we bring home to our kitchens from the market. ~Dr. Scott Weissman, Infectious Disease Expert
What You Can Do To Improve Food Safety:
- Buy meat raised without antibiotics
- Review the CDC’s food safety recommendations on handling meat in your home
- Look for the following labels when purchasing healthy and antibiotic free foods