You’ve probably heard some controversy about antibiotics being used on farm animals – what’s the deal?
First, it’s important to clarify what we’re actually worried about. If you’re grossed out by the idea of antibiotics in your meat, don’t worry, that isn’t really the issue. Since some people are allergic to antibiotics, the USDA already inspects meat to ensure it doesn’t contain any antibiotic residues, and animals have a required withdrawal period before slaughter so that the drugs can fully leave their system1. Same with milk and eggs. Phew.
What might keep you up at night, though, is the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. About 23,000 people in the U.S., and 700,000 people globally, die each year of antibiotic-resistant infections. These infections are hardest to treat in vulnerable groups like cancer patients, and in poor countries that don’t have the technologies and medicines to combat more complex infections. Bacteria evolve resistance as part of an inevitable biological process — we’ll never stop it. But we can accelerate it by making bad choices. Human medicine creates the most direct threat of bacteria evolving antibiotic resistance,... Read more