How to Get Antibiotics Out of Your Food

As we have been arguing for many years now, the best way to clean up the unwanted chemicals of concern from your food and products is to refuse to buy them.  Here is an overview of the latest status report on antibiotics in the food supply that lends evidence to the fact that many Americans are doing just that…

food chemicals-animal antibiotics chart

To Get Antibiotics Off Your Plate, Vote With Your Wallet


Each year, in the weeks before the New Year, the Food and Drug Administration drops a set of statistics with a wonky title and profound relevance to public health. The “Summary Report On Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals” contains data that pharma companies have given to the FDA on how many antibiotics are sold in the United States to be given to farm animals.

This year’s report was highly anticipated, because it would show the numbers from 2017—the first year to reflect tough restrictions put in place in the last days of the Obama Administration.

The anticipation was justified. The report, which was released Tuesday, shows that sales of antibiotics for use in farm animals dropped significantly in just one year. That drop reduces the possibility that antibiotic use on farms will create resistant bacteria that cause untreatable infections in humans. It is excellent news.

But as positive as the numbers are, the news isn’t perfect. The FDA report shows that millions of pounds of antibiotics are still being used in livestock in the United States. So the report that’s a test of strict new regulations also turns out to be a testimony to the limits of regulation. The new rules created change, but not enough change to transform an industry.

That ought to be discouraging—if the strictest regulations ever put in place in the United States aren’t enough to curtail antibiotic use, then can anything?

Except: At about the same time the report was released, a slew of food-related companies announced they are turning away from antibiotic use in the meat they use. Change around antibiotic overuse is happening— but it’s coming from an unexpected place. It’s the market, more than the government, that’s creating it.

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