Antibiotics in Meat Are Increasing…and so is disease

antibiotics in meatFrontline PBS recently featured the documentary The Trouble with Antibiotics, and according to the latest statistics, antibiotics in meat are increasing…and so is disease! Here’s some of the alarming numbers:

  • The United States uses about 30 million pounds of antibiotics every year to raise food animals in order to encourage growth and protect against the unsanitary living conditions of CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations)
  • This accounts for 80% of all antibiotic use in America!

Such exorbitant antibiotic use increases the risk of disease by promoting the development of hardy, antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that can’t be defeated with antibiotics and cause at least 23,000 American deaths a year (out of 2 million infected).

Hospital Trends

Here’s what’s trending in hospital wards across the country.  We are seeing a rise in the notoriously dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacteria—methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA kills more Americans than HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, emphysema, and homicides…combined! Among those diagnosed with MRSA are the young and healthy, a trend that points to antibiotic-tainted meat as the culprit. And as more meat is bred using antibiotics, more drug-resistant and lethal strains of bacteria are on the rise!

For example, hospitals are inundated with cases of antibiotic-resistant urinary tract infections (UTIs). When antibiotics don’t work, the infection spreads to the kidneys, and then to the blood, where sepsis kicks in—responsible for approximately 40,000 American deaths per year!

Researchers linked more than 100 drug-resistant UTIs to tainted supermarket meats by using genome sequencing to compare E.coli samples collected from supermarket meats, to E.coli samples from UTI-infected patients.

How to Protect Yourself

Using antibiotics promotes the mutation of bacteria into hardier, antibiotic-resistant strains and threatens the health of every individual. But building resistance is just one part of the problem. Meat that is tainted with drug-resistant bacteria (as in the UTI cases above) can cause disease if not handled properly and cooked sufficiently.

Even scarier, research suggests that half of all supermarket meat is tainted with antibiotic-resistant bacteria! If you are a meat eater, stay away from supermarket meat products and purchase only organic, grass-fed (pasture-raised) meats raised without antibiotics.