Does Your Meat Contain Antibiotics?

happy cowsIn a world full of so many choices, it’s tough to know how an animal was raised before it makes it to the super market. Many Paleo Dieters and health conscious consumers are committed to buying meat that has not been treated with antibiotics. A little research can mean all the difference when trying to keep antibiotics off your plate.

Antibiotics are prescribed to humans to treat illness caused by bacteria. Over the past decade, there has been media speculation that overuse is causing immunity to the once life-saving properties contained in antibiotics. Many health care professionals opt to save antibiotic use for extreme cases, as many viral strains of infection are actually immune to the treatments.

Animals are given antibiotics to not only treat illness, but to also prevent sickness in what can sometimes be crowded quarters. A well-known side effect of this regimen is weight gain. Adding fluticasone salmeterol to the water supply or animal feed cause the animal to gain weight and therefore provide more meat for sale. A win-win for the farmer, but what about the consumer?

Reading labels is not always a fool-proof solution. On-package marketing is often full of claims and opinions from companies looking to position their products in a healthy light. Unless the USDA has substantiated the claims made on package, the words are just that. Claims.

If that packaging states ORGANIC or NO ANTIBIOTICS ADMINISTERED/USDA PROCESS VERIFIED, you can be certain that your meat was never given antibiotics or hormones. Those words are 100% certified by the USDA. If you are dead set against ingesting antibiotics in your meat, feel safe at Whole Foods, as the healthy chain is committed to sourcing meat that has not been given antibiotics. Trader Joe’s is also known for having a large selection of antibiotic free options.

Claims like: NO ANTIBIOTICS, NO ADDED ANTIBIOTICS, HUMANELY RAISED WITHOUT ANTIBIOTICS, NEVER GIVEN ANTIBIOTICS and RAISED WITHOUT ANTIBIOTICS are meaningful but not always mandated by a higher power. The UDSA has defined these claims, and meat suppliers are supposed to use them in the proper way. Claims are most reliable when accompanied by a UDSA PROCESS VERIFIED shield.

The claim NATURAL sounds healthy, but it doesn’t indicate anything about antibiotics. The USDA defines “natural” as any product that does not contain artificial ingredients or added color and is minimally processed. What happened on the farm stays on the farm if the front of the package simply says “natural.”

NO ANTIBIOTIC RESIDUES also means very little. It only indicates that antibiotic residue levels in the final meat product fall below Food and Drug Administration tolerance thresholds. It does not mean that the animal was antibiotic free throughout it’s lifetime.

Many professionals argue that the trace amount of antibiotics found in the meat on our table will not lead to human resistance of the live-saving drugs. The real question lies in whether or not using antibiotics for disease prevention and growth promotion in animals will lead to the potential breeding of “superbugs” in our meat supply. These bacteria strains could be resistant to antibiotic treatment. Proper meat safety techniques and cooking guidelines are of the utmost importance to keep meat eaters safe.

Sources state that 80% of the antibiotics prescribed to humans are also used to treat livestock. Knowing where and how your meat is sourced can take that percentage of antibiotics you ingest in your meat to ZERO.

Steve’s PaleoGoods is proud to source our meat from White Oak Pastures, Meyer Natural Angus and Silver Fern Farms, all promise to never ever use antibiotics or hormones while remaining committed to humane handling. Knowing how your on-the-go protein has been raised is just as important as knowing about your on-the-plate protein. Ask, shop, listen and learn!