Antibiotics: Are they overused and in my food? What can I do?

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably felt extreme gratitude for the existence of antibiotics at some point in your life. Each time that I’ve easily recovered from strep throat throughout my life thanks to antibiotics, I’ve thought of my mom’s oldest sister who died from strep throat as a young child – only weeks before penicillin was released to the public.

Although I greatly appreciate antibiotics because of this, I am also downright frightened by the overuse of antibiotics in our society, particularly within our food supply.

Why would antibiotics have anything to do with our food supply?
Food animals on industrial farms are routinely fed antibiotics in their food and water to promote growth and to compensate for the effects of overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.

How does this affect you?
Many of the antibiotics your doctor would prescribe you like penicillin or tetracyclines are the exact same antibiotics given to the food animals on the farms. This means that bacteria resistant to antibiotics used in animals will also be resistant to antibiotics used in humans. When you eat food that comes from animals fed these antibiotics, you are unknowingly and unwillingly helping bacteria to create strains that are resistant to our antibiotics. This creates “superbugs” and antibiotics that can no longer help us.

According to SaveAntibiotics.org:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testified before Congress last year that there was a definitive link between the routine, non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics on industrial farms and the crisis of antibiotic resistance in humans

Imagine a world in which we can’t count on antibiotics!
Without effective antibiotics, surgeries and transplants could become impossible.

– Children, the elderly, and chronically ill people will be severely at risk.

– Previously treatable illnesses like pneumonia may become untreatable.

This is not the kind of world we want our children to grow up in.

What can we do?
1. Click on this link to send a letter to your representatives asking them to cosponsor the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2011 which would withdraw the routine use of seven classes of antibiotics vitally important to human health from food animal production unless animals or herds are sick with disease or unless drug companies can prove that their use does not harm human health.

2. Join the Moms for Antibiotic Awareness campaign.

3. Share this information with others so we can all be informed!

To learn more about the overuse of antibiotics, please visit these resources:
Healthy Child Healthy World
New study adds to concerns about animal-to-human resistance to antibiotics, April 25, 2011, Los Angeles Times
Video: CBS Evening News Reports on Antibiotic Use in Food Animal Production

If you have suggestions on how to help prevent the overuse of antibiotics, or if you would like to share other helpful resources on this topic, please include them in your comments below. Thank you!

baby looking at a cow

Let's keep our food supply and our babies safe!

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