In a study of 136 meat samples from 26 different grocery stores in 5 states, the Translational Genomics Research Institute of Arizona found high instances of drug resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or staph, was found in each case. Staph infections are the leading cause of death in the United States each year, even surpassing HIV.
Feedlot farmers routinely treat their animals with antibiotics even before they show signs of illness, adding them to feed and water. Drugs used include penicillin, tetracylines, sulfonamides, all of which are routinely used for human illnesses. The disturbing fact is that many illnesses treated in humans have become more drug resistant because of overuse of these drugs in animals. MRSA (pronounced mersa) is a staphylococcus infection that has developed over the past few years which is unaffected by the drug methacillin, penicillin and cephalosporin. Highly resistant to any antibiotics, MRSA has been contracted by people in hospitals not admitted for its treatment. It has also been known to be transmitted by handling baby chicks which are infected with salmonella.
This is no surprise, however, to anyone who has been following developments in the food industry and medical world. Industrialized farms, a.k.a., CAFOS (concentrated animal feeding operations or feedlots) are so crowded that animals are prone to various diseases. Animals at these facilities are given drugs to prevent infection because of the filthy environment they’re raised in and stress of close confinement. It’s no wonder that antibiotics aren’t working the way they were designed to.
Partial blame goes to physicians and patients for the drug resistant epidemic. Consumers have gotten so germaphobic in the last few decades. Hand sanitizers can be seen everywhere. Consumers snatch up bottles of anything labeled “antibacterial.” At the slightest sneeze or hint of ‘the FLU,’ they run to the doctor and ask for antibiotics. Doctors are courted by the drug industry and offered the latest new pills, many of them antibiotics. With the pressure to see as many patients as they can, often the simplest thing is to pat the patient on the head, write a script for antibiotics and send them on their way in the allotted 15 minutes. But antibiotics don’t cure every condition.
Purchasing meat from a local farmer who raises grass-fed meat is the best bet to avoid drug resistant bacteria in meat. Grassfed animals are far healthier and don’t require antibiotics because they are in their natural environment. You’ll be doing your body a great favor and helping your local farmers and the sustainable food system.
Suggested reading: FAST FOOD NATION by Eric Schlosser