By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist
I tend to be somewhat of a health nut. I am in “half marathon training mode” and know that my body needs fresh fruits, veggies, grains, dairy and lean proteins in order to function properly. I can truly feel a difference in my body when I use filling foods as a fuel as opposed to high calorie foods with no nutritional value. (Don’t get me wrong it’s not that I totally avoid those foods, I enjoy them in moderation.)
I worry about the foods that enter my mouth, especially when I don’t know how they were prepared. One thing I don’t have to fear, however, is antibiotics in my meat. An ad from PEW Charitable Trusts was recently distributed at Neodesha school district in southeast Kansas. The heading of the handout (pictured on left) reads “Moms for Antibiotic Awareness” and calls moms and dads to “help end the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in food animal production”.
Like, Teresa in the video below, farmers and ranchers in your community take the judicious use of antibiotics very seriously. Think about it, the food you are putting on your table is the same food that they are putting on theirs. As caretakers, farmers and ranchers are proud to feed your family.
Healthy animals provide healthy food. When your child is ill, you take them to the doctor and if the doctor recommends an antibiotic, you take the prescription and head for the pharmacy. It’s no different when there is a sick animal. For more than 50 years, veterinarians and producers have administered antibiotics to food animals, primarily poultry, swine and cattle, mostly to fight or prevent disease. Antibiotics are given strategically – administered when animals are sick, susceptible or exposed to illness. This reduces the risk of unhealthy animals entering our food supply, according to Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine. Protecting healthy animals helps to protect human health. Many are unaware that we live in a microbial world where bacteria can transfer between animals and people with some causing disease in humans or animals or both.
Should you be worried about antibiotics in the meat you buy for your family?
The FDA does not allow meat to be sold with traces of antibiotics above strict safety limits. The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) performs scheduled, but random, testing of meat nationwide. According to FDA and FSIS regulations, livestock antibiotic use requires specific withdrawal times, or a set number of days that must pass between the last antibiotic treatment and the animal entering the food supply. This ensures the drugs have sufficiently cleared an animal’s system.
Why are antibiotics given to livestock?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), U.S. farmers and ranchers must maintain good animal care, which includes making sure animals are healthy; comfortable; well nourished; safe; able to express the natural behaviors of their species; and not experiencing pain, fear and distress. According to AVMA, banning or severely restricting the use of antimicrobials in animals would negatively impact a veterinarian’s ability to protect animal health and prevent suffering from disease, which can lead to poor care.
In the following video, family farmer and mom, Heidi Vittetoe invites you to uncover antibiotic use on her pork farm.
Is human health impacted by eating meat from animals given antibiotics?
“The judicious use of all drugs in animals, particularly food-producing animals, is very important. The use of medicated feeds in food-producing animals is evaluated and regulated to prevent harmful effects on both animal and human health,” said Steven D. Vaughn, D.V.M., director of the Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation in FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.
Looking for more information on antibiotics from farmers? Ask your neighboring farms and ranches or visit http://findourcommonground.com/food-facts/antibiotics/.