Most antibiotics sold in this country are fed to farmed animals rather than to treat human disease.
These antibiotics are mixed in with the food and water fed to the pigs, cows, and chickens who become the meat we eat. Often these animals are not even sick. Meat companies give low doses of antibiotics to farmed animals because it makes them grow bigger and faster on less food. These animals are also kept in confined and filthy conditions – conditions that would make them very sick if they were not all given these antibiotics preventatively.
Unfortunately, this extensive use of low dose antibiotics is helping to breed resistance in bacteria – leading to the existence of "superbugs." These superbugs create infections in people that cannot be treated by the antibiotics—and this problem is potentially the leading health crisis in the U.S.
Consumers who want to avoid meat produced with antibiotics have no way to identify such products.
Although some companies use the label "antibiotic free," the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not regulate that term. Consumers therefore have no way of knowing whether the meat they buy is truly produced with or without large amounts of antibiotics.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has recently asked the USDA to require labels on meat and poultry products to clarify whether those animals were fed antibiotics or not. Consumers should have a say in what goes in their meat.
As a father of a toddler and a newborn, I know how important it is that families know what they’re putting on the table for their kids. Consumers have a right to make informed choices, and it’s the job of our government regulatory agencies to help us by properly labeling food that could be harmful.
Please join me in urging the USDA to require that meat produced from animals fed antibiotics be labeled accordingly. Contact the USDA and ask them to adopt ALDF’s proposal!
As you are aware, most antibiotics sold in the United States are fed to farm animals, many “sub-therapeutically.” This extensive use of low levels of antibiotics poses a significant risk to human health, as recently recognized by the Food and Drug Administration. Yet, meat and poultry producers are not required to identify this use of antibiotics on their products.
Consumers, including myself, are increasingly aware of and concerned about this use of antibiotics in food production. However, we have no way to identify products and producers who use antibiotics responsibly and those that use antibiotics extensively and unnecessarily.
Mandatory labels identifying the products produced with or without antibiotics are the only way that consumers can make informed choices about what we consume.
Ensuring accurate labeling on meat and poultry products is the responsibility of the USDA. I urge you to act immediately on the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s petition and require labels regarding antibiotics on all meat and poultry products.