One concern is that antibiotic residues may trigger allergic responses in individuals who are antibiotic-sensitive. To avoid this possibility, the FDA establishes maximum antibiotic levels that can be used in feed, and the minimum “withdrawal” time before animals are processed. The U.S.D.A.’s monitoring suggests that less than 1% of meat and poultry product contain residues higher than the legal limit, but with increasing importation of beef from other countries, this may become more of a problem. Even the relatively small risk of 1%, however, may be an unacceptable risk to sensitive individuals.
The primary concern with using these vast quantities of microbials in animal husbandry is the creation of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Many of these antibiotics are important for human health (e.g., tetracycline, penicillin, erythromycin). Although the scientific data are sketchy, many researchers desire to apply a “precautionary” approach, banning the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry except for treatment of illness.
The livestock and poultry industry resist such a ban because of economic reasons and argue that in the absence of clear data, such a ban would cause unnecessary economic hardship for the livestock industries. Our belief, however, is that a change in the production model can address the problem. Pasture grown beef requires no feedlots, no corn, no acidosis, and no need for antibiotics.
Note that some large companies have begun to heed the consumer's desire for beef that has not been treated with antibiotics, but you have to read labels closely to be sure of what you are getting. Some beef is sold as "not fed antibiotics" or "raised without the use of routine antibiotics." These terms mean that cattle are not fed antibiotics at sub-therapeutic levels, but most protocols allow for treating of animals that are ill and following the prescribed withdrawal period before harvest. In one study, more than half of the animals in a feedlot were treated for bovine respiratory disease during their 150 day stay, some more than once (Garder, B.A. and others. 1999. Health of finishing steers: effects on performance, carcass traits, and meat tenderness." Journal of Animal Science 77:3168-3175). If you want beef from cattle that have never been given antibiotics, read labels carefully! Because we raise our beef ourselves from birth to finish, we can assure you that they have never received antibiotics.
Union of Concerned Scientists report. Mellon, M.; Benbrook, C.; Benbrook, K. 2001. Hogging It. Estimates of Antimicrobial Use in Livestock. Cambridge, MA; Union of Concerned Scientists.
Response by Steven Milloy, who runs the Junk Science site. He debunks most of the UCS’s conclusions in the above report.
Grain Fed Cattle Need Antibiotics (From all-organic-food.com)
Reservoirs of Antibiotic Resistance Network. ROAR is a unique network dedicated to generating a new impetus worldwide for research on commensal bacteria as reservoirs of resistance that can be transferred to human pathogens.
Keep Antibiotics Working, the Campaign to End Antibiotics Overuse, is a coalition of concerned health, consumer, environmental and agricultural groups working to reduce the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, particularly in animal agriculture.
From PBS’s Frontline: Meat producers have
fed growth-promoting antibiotics to food animals for years. Recently, scientists
have raised concerns that, in conjunction with the general overuse of antibiotics
in humans, this use of "sub-therapeutic" levels of antibiotics in food
animals may lead to serious health risks for people. Banning the use of
such drugs, however, would greatly reduce the efficiency of the industry,
driving up the cost of meat. Some in the industry believe that the scientific
evidence linking low-dose usage of antibiotics to drug-resistant illnesses
in people is too inconclusive and does not justify banning their use.
|COPYRIGHT: CARYL ELZINGA and ALDERSPRING RANCH 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005|