The FDA has announced a new rule for farmers that will force them to get a prescription before giving their livestock antibiotics. The downside of giving growth antibiotics to herds is that they may be creating super-bugs by killing off weaker bacteria and allowing the strong to multiply. Research has found that drug resistant bacteria are moving from animals to humans.
Gardiner Harris of The New York Times writes, “[A]bout 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animals… Michael Taylor, the F.D.A.’s deputy commissioner for food, predicted that the new restrictions would save lives because farmers would have to convince a veterinarian that their animals were either sick or at risk of getting a specific illness. Just using the drugs for growth will be disallowed and, it is hoped, this will cut their use sharply.”
But heavy handed government rules may not have the effect that smarter farming would. Charles Schmidt wrote in Environmental Health Perspectives:
In issuing the rule on 6 January 2012, the FDA cited declines in the prevalence of cephalosporin-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg isolates in chicken meat and in humans following voluntary restrictions on the drugs in Canada. The Canadian restrictions were limited to use in poultry. However, according to Chuck Hofacre, a veterinarian and professor at the Center of Food Safety at the University of Georgia, U.S. poultry producers have used cephalosporins very little since 2008, which is when the FDA first tried to restrict the drugs’ use in food animals. Today, cattle account for most veterinary prescriptions for antibiotics in this country, generally for treating pneumonia, foot rot, and mastitis, according to Gatz Riddell, a veterinarian and executive vice president of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners.
The government’s antibiotic mandate will not remedy the side effects of yet another government mandate—the ethanol mandate. Ethanol byproducts are loaded with antibiotics used to control the fermentation process. Increasingly, these byproducts are being fed to livestock. Grist outlines the details here. Neither these drug-laden grains nor any other have a place in a cow’s food chain. Only grass-fed meat, dairy from grass-fed cows, and hormone- and antibiotic-free eggs and poultry should end up on your table. Check out U.S. Wellness Meats for all your needs.