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Concerned about antibiotics in your meat? Then here’s more cause for alarm: According to new data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, sales of antibiotics for domestic food animals increased last year, from 28.8 million pounds in 2009 to 30.6 million pounds in 2010. What’s more bothersome is that the increase in antibiotic sales doesn’t correspond directly with an increase in meat production. While antibiotic sales jumped 6.7 percent, meat production only increased by 1.3 percent.
Animals destined for meat production are given regular doses of antibiotics for various reasons: to keep them healthy (industrial farms are breeding grounds for disease), to counteract an unbalanced diet (cows fed only grain develop a life-threatening condition called “acute acidosis;” antibiotics are needed to keep them alive), and to promote growth (antibiotics increase metabolic rate and nutrient absorption, accelerating growth). Unchecked antibiotic use is cause for concern. The more antibiotics are used, the more antibiotic-resistant microbes become, making it more difficult and expensive to treat infections.
To find antibiotic-free meats, look for certified organic meat, which must be raised without use of growth hormones or antibiotics, or buy your meat from local farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Visit EatWild.com or LocalHarvest.org to find local farmers who sell sustainable meat.