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November 19, 2017  |  Login
Antibiotic Use in Food and Dairy

Antibiotics are used in humans and animals to treat infectious diseases caused by bacteria.

In recent decades, farmers of beef, poultry, pork and other meats have been feeding animals antibiotics regularly for increased weight gain or for disease prevention in unsanitary factory farm conditions. This overuse of antibiotics has created antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, rendering many of our antibiotics ineffective in the treatment of infectious diseases.

Residues of these antibiotics end up in the meat we eat, contributing to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Exposing bacteria to the small amounts of antibiotics present in meat makes them stronger: the antibiotics kill off the weak bacteria, but there is not enough of the drug to wipe them all out. The stronger bacteria survive, adapt to living with small doses of the antibiotic, and reproduce, passing on their growing ability to withstand medicine to the next generations. So, antibiotics become less effective at killing off bacteria, making infectious diseases harder and harder to treat. Some antibiotics have become completely ineffective at treating diseases they once could.

With this issue in mind, many consumers are now choosing meat and dairy products that have not been fed antibiotics in their lifetime.

Look for these labels in meat:

Credible and Verified:

Credible (but no verification):

  • "no antibiotics administered"

  • "no antibiotics added"

  • raised without antibiotics"

Banned:

Antibiotic Use in Dairy Cows

Dairy cows that are given the growth hormone rBGH are more susceptible to an udder infection known as mastitis, which must be treated with antibiotics. Dairy cows are also often routinely fed low doses of antibiotics for increased growth and disease prevention, contributing to antibiotic resistance.

When looking for dairy products from cows raised without antibiotics, look for these labels:

Credible for Dairy:

Not Credible for Dairy:

  • "no antibiotics administered"

  • "no antibiotics added"

  • raised without antibiotics"

  • "antibiotic-free"

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