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Antibiotic-Free Meat is All the Rage

Antibiotic-Free Meat is All the Rage

Maybe a decade ago I was having a conversation with an acquaintance about the importance of consuming only meat that was free of hormones and antibiotics. My stance was fairly staunch, in that I felt the introduction of hormones and antibiotics into the food supply had the potential to wreak havoc on our bodies and environment. His response was something like, “A few extra antibiotics won’t hurt me…hell, and they might even keep me from getting sick” (he was relatively silent about hormones). Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. The introduction of antibiotics has been shown to beef up, not so much cattle, but drug-resistant viral strains and staph. Sure, the majority of meat being bought and sold out there today is still likely laden with antibiotics, but there is a growing interest, investment and enthusiasm for antibiotic-free meat products.

I have reported in the past about the fast food restaurant chain Chipotle and their gestures, as well as commitment, towards sustainable farming, and now comes word, courtesy of an NPR report, that Chipotle’s drive towards antibiotic-free pork has made the stuff, well, really trendy.

What used to be the domain of Whole Foods and farmer’s market shoppers is now being mainstreamed, at least somewhat. According to the report, demand for antibiotic-free meat is outstretching the supply. Beyond Chipotle’s commitment (which according to them includes the sale of 120 million pounds of naturally raised pork, chicken and beef that meets its antibiotic-free standards annually) and demand for the product, others, including Hyatt; institutional food providers such as Bon Appétit Management Co., which caters to schools and companies; and countless other consumers are paying a premium (usually about 30 percent more) for antibiotic-free meat that is perceived as being more pure than conventional meat. Longstanding concerns about the health and safety of using antibiotics in the food supply have moved the FDA to impose voluntary guidelines that recommend limiting the use of antibiotics in livestock.

While the distaste for antibiotics in our meat has seemingly eclipsed our concern over hormones in our meat, it should probably be seen as a bit of progress that we have come to a place where antibiotic-free meats are (somewhat) widely available. Is this progress or just marketing at work? Do you take care to always eat antibiotic-free animal products or do you feel a little bit here and there is perfectly safe?

Related:
Chipotle Opts for a Message About Sustainable Farming
Can We Get Antibiotics Out of the Meat Industry?
A Little Milk With Your Antibiotics and Hormones?

Read more: Animal Rights, Blogs, Eating for Health, Following Food, Food, Nature & Wildlife, Vegetarian, , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

50 comments

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8:23AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

It is certainly a preferable practice to avoid loading our food supply with unnatural things be it pesticides, additives, hormones, antibiotics, GMO seeds...so many things over the decades have been added to food sources to make these very unhealthy. Little wonder there are so many allergies and illness in the world. Refined and highly processed foods are unhealthy.

When humans are taking antibiotics for illness it often destroys the normal bacteria that is beneficial in our stomachs so no doubt eating meat pumped with hormones and other things does little for our health. We get toxins in our foods be it meat or vegetable so our sources should be toxin free and organic!

Be you an omnivore, vegetarian or vegan, we must be aware of the source of our foods-one can eat soy but 60 per cent of the world's supply is from GMO sources so vegans are not excluded in threats to food unless they find organic sources.

People will always continue to eat meat for those of us who are omnivores despite the usual complaints from those who do not and no doubt some will say it serves us right, but we are free to choose our own lifestyle-we just must be aware of finding foods without toxins!

11:03PM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

gross! how about just not eating meat to begin with?

4:31AM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

Glad to hear the information is spreading. I hope the trend continues and forces the meat industry to clean up.

9:04AM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

excellent

8:15PM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

Better be careful, good post, thanks fo sharing.

3:48PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Thanks Eric but my antibiotic free tofu and tempeh has been all the rage for years!!

8:35AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Just a clarification: antibiotics have no effect on viral strains (mentioned in the article), as they are only effective against bacteria.

Let's hope that this change will force livestock producers to give their animals more room, thereby reducing the need for antibiotics as growth factors.

11:17AM PDT on Jun 3, 2012

all this fussing about medicines for animals..one things for sure..they will have to be wormed out..or we will have worms..soo, what about worm medicine in our food?? have you thought about this??? worm medicine in our food??...same as antibiotics??...which s the worst?? I would hope they wormed them out every few weeks.. why not just quit eating pork..read what the bible say about PORK??? ..I use to work at the vet's office...I know what should be done to animals..you put a crowd of animals together and there will be problems.

8:20AM PDT on Jun 3, 2012

If we treated animals properly, that is giving them room to move around etc, then we wouldn't need to treat them with such substances. The real 'cost' of doing what we are doing will become apparent one day, by then the damage will have already been done.

6:01PM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

I strongly think the giving animals hormones and antibiotics (unless they are sick) should be outlawed. The thing that pisses me off about people is our arrogance. We run around pretending we are somehow more superior to other animals because of our frontal lobe. When I eat my meat, I remember it was once alive, and so was the plants I am eating. At the end of the day, I am an animal eating another animal and under some circumstances, a human animal can easily be eaten by another animal. I find it absurd that peole twist science to their benefit. We are meant to eat both plants and animals, there is no getting around it. Peopel are gettign sick from meat because they are eating way more then we were meant to on top of all this crazy stuff they add to it. We are only supposed to eat 1-2 servings a day and people are eating more meat than veggies. Is is a wonder why people are getting sick? Does that mean I would try to sneak meat into a meal I prepared and gave to a person who choices to not eat meat? Of course not, I respect people's ethics and personal rights. I would make sure to respect it if I had a vegan/vegitarian over for a meal. I am just tired of people ignoring a whole food group and telling me that it is somehow healthier, even though they have to take suppliments to ensure their own health. I feel the same for people who avoid carbs, produce products and so forth.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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