Meat has a Drug Problem

There are times I wish I was still on ‘Fake’book so I could share this info with a wider audience. Then I remember how miserable the site made me.

At least that’s what we think—producers of meat and poultry aren’t required to report how they use the drugs, which drugs they use, on which animals and in which quantities. That makes it difficult for scientists to directly connect the heavy use of antibiotics in animals with antibiotic resistance in people. In a New York Times story last year, one public health researcher compared the lack of data collection to “facing off against a major public health crisis with one hand tied behind our backs.” But efforts by the government in the past to more tightly regulate antibiotics in animals have met with failure, thanks in part to powerful agriculture interests.

There’s some hope: last year the FDA issued draft guidelines that would ask the pharmaceutical industry to change labeling and marketing practices so that antibiotics would be used only on sick animals, rather than for growth promotion on healthy ones. But even those guidelines would only be voluntary. In China and in the U.S., drugs are likely to remain a part of commercial meat production—and the rest of us may pay the price.

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