Summertime is barbecue season and with that comes an increased risk for food-borne illnesses. You can minimize your risk of getting sick with safe handling practices along with employing proper cooking times and temperatures. You can also reduce your risk by choosing meats produced from animals that are raised without antibiotics.
While antibiotics are critical to treating diseases in humans and animals, the non-therapeutic use of these drugs on farms and in animals is creating strains of food-borne bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. According to a recent report put out by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, antibiotic resistance is an inevitable consequence of antibiotic use. The more antibiotics are used, the more bacteria will develop resistance.
On “conventional” farms, pigs, chickens, turkeys and cattle are administered antibiotics in their feed to promote growth and prevent diseases caused by overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. Most of these antibiotics are administered without prescriptions or veterinary oversight. More than 80 percent of the antibiotics in the United States are used on farm animals, and most of those are similar or identical to the medicines given to humans. This creates a situation where the antibiotics used in the animals (the same ones used in humans) become less effective for treating illnesses in humans.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to conventional meat products.
One example is American Homestead Natural Meats, which is a network of 35 traditional, full-time family hog farms committed to animal welfare and responsible farming methods. The hogs are raised in animal-friendly surroundings without the use of any type of antibiotics or growth promotants. They have fresh, deep-straw bedding, clean water and ample space to move. They’re fed a 100 percent vegetarian diet, supplemented with vitamins, minerals and probiotics to increase immunity and the feed is frequently tested to make sure it is free of chemical residue.
Another company that is doing it differently is Tecumseh Poultry, makers of Smart Chicken. Founded in 1998, Tecumseh positioned itself as an alternative to the five large corporations that controlled virtually all the commercial chicken that was raised in the United States. In doing so, they became one of the first, and remain one of the few, broiler companies to completely eliminate the use of antibiotics. In the event of sickness, their chickens are treated with antibiotics, but then that chicken is removed from the program, never to be sold as Smart Chicken.
Information on their website notes, “We have found that the need for antibiotics can be virtually eliminated with the appropriate care and handling of the chickens and the facilities. The effect of indiscriminate use of antibiotics in livestock production in this country is remarkable. Dosages and variations keep increasing as organisms develop resistance and as new strains emerge. The effect of this use of antibiotics on human pathogens may be debatable, but the effect on pathogens affecting chickens is not. With proper care and patience, chickens simply do not need to be drugged from egg to shelf in order to thrive.”
These two companies, along with a growing number of others, and growing demand by consumers, are leading the way to raising farm animals in a manner that produces wholesome products, while preserving the utility of antibiotics for future generations of people and animals. FBN
Written by Ron Colone, Marketing Director of New Frontiers