Shocking Drugs Contaminate American Meat Supply

Most people know about antibiotic residues, growth hormones and other hormones found in the meat supply, but a new report found that American meat contains a lot more than these drugs. From the hallucinogenic party drug known as ketamine to anti-inflammatory drugs considered too risky for use, phenylbutazone, a new report compiled from US government documents by Consumer Reports found a whole host of drugs in the meat supply.

The Consumer Reports food scientists assessed nearly 6000 meat samples taken between October 2015 and September 2016 from slaughterhouses around the country. The report found that hundreds of samples of beef, pork and poultry from small and large-scale growers contained the toxic drugs. They were taken from meat intended for hospitals, restaurants, schools, supermarkets and other outlets.

The study cites research from the Journal of Veterinary Science and Toxicology in which long-term exposure to drug residues caused cancer, damage to fetuses, antibiotic resistance and other health issues.

A scandal back in 2013 in which horse meat was found in beef raised red flags about drugs like phenylbutazone (one of the illicit drugs found in the US meat samples) finding its way into the food supply since the drug is allowed for use in horses. Phenylbutazone was pulled from the US market for human use due to the serious risks involved in use, including suppression of bone marrow resulting in dangerously low levels of white blood cell counts.

While these drugs are disallowed in beef, pork and poultry in the United States, government data shows that, not only are they present in meat, the regulators responsible for protection of the food supply have chosen to do absolutely nothing about it.

The study raises concerns that there are insufficient safeguards in place to protect the American public from contaminated meat in the marketplace. According to the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) Chief Scientist, Emilio Esteban, PhD, the data should be discounted because it hasn’t been verified. That sounds irresponsible at best and dangerous at worst. Shouldn’t the FSIS’ scientists get to work to determine the exact magnitude of the problem and find ways to pull contaminated meat from the marketplace, along with enact protective measures to ensure the problem doesn’t become systemic one if it isn’t already?

The report seems to offer more questions than answers. How are these banned drugs ending up in the meat supply? Is it from contaminated feed, water or intentional misuse? Do the drugs found in the meat supply harm human health in the amounts found? How can they be better regulated or removed from the marketplace? But, perhaps most importantly: why is the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service not taking the data more seriously?

Reduce Your Risk of Eating Drug-Contaminated Foods

So, what can you do to protect yourself from drug-riddled meat? Here are a few things you can do to reduce your exposure:

Eliminate Meat from Your Diet

Obviously, the most effective way to reduce your risk of ingesting harmful drugs found in meat is to avoid eating meat altogether. There has never been a better time to go vegan or vegetarian as there are many great vegan options and more produce, nut and bean options at your local grocery or health food store.

Eat More Plant-Based Foods

By eating less meat or poultry you’ll reduce your exposure to toxic drugs. And, it’s much easier and more enjoyable than you might think to eat a plant-based diet. And, for those who are immediately obsessing about how they’ll get enough protein: there are many excellent sources of plant-based protein, including: beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, quinoa, nut or seed beverages, avocado, coconut, among others.

Choose Certified Organic Meat and Poultry

Organic meat and poultry is typically subjected to stricter standards so there is less likelihood of contamination. Most animals raised for organic meat tend to eat superior diets, making them at lower risk of exposure to toxic drugs.

Choose Meat from Local Ranchers

By choosing ranchers or meat suppliers with whom you are familiar and whose feed and watering practices you have insight into, you can reduce the likelihood that the meat is at risk.

Raise Your Own Chickens

While you may not have room for a cow in your backyard, many communities allow chickens and other types of poultry to be raised even in suburban areas. Of course, you’ll want to check with your local government before building that chicken coop.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, & Cooking.  Follow her work.



Anna R
Anna R3 months ago


hELEN h4 months ago


Elizabeth M
Past Member 4 months ago

many thanks.

Ruth S
Ruth S4 months ago


Ben O
Ben O5 months ago

I'm gonna puke now... : ~ ( BTW; -I went vegetarian more than 40 years ago...

Mark H
Mark H5 months ago


Alexandra Richards
Alexandra Richards5 months ago

Thank you.

Paulo Reeson
Paulo R5 months ago

hope to see the appalling meat market become obsolete in the 10-20 years. ty

Chrissie R
Chrissie R5 months ago

ETHICAL OMNIVORES needn't worry.........

Winn A
Winn A5 months ago