These days food health is one of the essential factors to choose food products. “Antibiotic” is used to be considered as a medical term, but these days it’s become quite well-known term about food safety. Here is some history, importance, and also the effect of Antibiotics on Food.
Antibiotics are medications that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria. They include a host of drugs used to treat diseases caused by bacteria. Antibiotics can also be used in the preventive treatment of diseases. Antibiotics have been used in livestock feed since the 1940s as they have proven to not only treat infectious diseases in animals caused by bacteria but also enhance growth in farm animals as they kill off the bacteria present in the guts that help to regulate weight. Although such practices have been banned by the FDA, there are still a number of livestock farmers who engage in it.
Antibiotics are not only used on livestock but also on plants as well as a last resort against fetal bacterial infection.
According to the food and drug administration (FDA), 80 percent of the total antibiotic use is in agriculture, with pigs and poultry receiving five to ten times more antibiotics than cows and sheep.
So why are antibiotics widely used in animal farming and what is their effect on our food?
Importance of Antibiotics in Animal Farming
- To treat infectious diseases caused by bacteria
- To ensure animal health and warfare
- To increase food safety
Effect of Antibiotics on Food.
The overuse of antibiotics on farm animals can have a significant impact on the food that we eat. Below is a list of those impacts:
1. Antibiotic resistance- Continuous and excessive use of antibiotics is the leading cause of bacterial resistance. Antibiotic resistance can greatly affect animals as the antibiotic losses its effectiveness in killing harmful bacteria. This antibiotic resistance can then be passed to humans through contaminated food products by:
- Eating meat that is not properly cooked
- By consuming food crops sprayed with fertilizers containing animal resistant bacteria
According to statistics, about 2 million people are infected with bacteria resistant to one or more bacteria each year, and about 23,000 of those people die.
2. Excessive adding of weight- When contaminated food products carrying this antibiotic are eaten, they create an optimal growth environment by killing the bacteria present in the guts that consume some of our food so that more food nutrients are available to be digested into the body. This growth-promoting antibiotic can greatly increase the risk of obesity and weight gain.
3. Presence of resistant bacteria in food products- In a survey conducted on 200 US supermarket meat samples of chicken, pork, turkey, and beef, it was discovered that 20% of them contained salmonella, and 84% of them were resistant to one form of bacteria. The presence of resistant bacteria increases in food products ingested with antibiotics; people who eat these products also pick up these resistant bacteria and can develop health complications as a result.
Although proper cooking of meat and other animal product dramatically reduces the risk of ingesting resistant bacteria, it is generally advised to try as much as possible to avoid food products that have been grown or treated with antibiotics.
Eating well suggested “Antibiotic Free Food Labels to Look For” on their website.
They said “More antibiotics go into the food we eat than we take ourselves. About 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are used on farm animals.” And they suggested few labels such as “USDA Organic”, “Food Alliance” certificate can distinguish the Antibiotic-Free Foods.
So next time why not go to a local market to get your meat and make sure to ask if it is antibiotic-free.