When antibiotics were first introduced to being implemented into cattle, the main purpose was to treat illnesses or diseases that these animals may have had to prevent those illnesses from being carried onto consumers. The meat industry eventually started continuing the use of antibiotics to not only prevent food-borne illnesses, but also to use it as a tool to make cattle grow bigger and faster.
Although the use of antibiotics may have benefitted consumer health at first, it is arguable that the meat industry has abused this privilege and the overuse of these antibiotics throughout the years is now in fact hurting meat consumers rather than helping them.
The use of antibiotics in the meat industry may have a significantly detrimental effect on the health of a large number of people across the nation that consume meat.
Image from WholeFed
Antibiotic usage in America’s meat industry is taking a huge toll on the health of the people that consume meat on a regular basis. PBS Frontline put out an article regarding the documentary “Modern Meat” that the company had broadcasted revealing what goes on inside the feedlots of the American meat industry. The article stated, “As reported in ‘Modern Meat’, it is estimated that at least one third of the 5,000 deaths each year from food-borne illness can be attributed to meat and poultry”. Meat and poultry has exposed consumers to even more food-borne illnesses due to the introduction of antibiotics to these animals. With a large amount of the nation’s population being carnivorous or omnivorous eaters, we must be more aware of this growing health issue as it may affect us severely later on.
An article from December of last year titled Antibiotic Use on Farms is Up, Despite Promises to Kick The Drugs discussed the issue of the overuse of antibiotics in the meat industry, despite the efforts that companies claimed to make in reducing the use of it. The KQED article stated, “Over the past year, one big food company after another has announced plans to stop using these drugs […] According to the Food and Drug Administration, which compiles these numbers, sales of antibiotics for use on the farm increased in 2014, just as they had for most years before that” (Charles). Although big name meat companies have claimed to cut down on the use of antibiotics, there has been no evidence of them following through with their word as shown in the FDA’s compiled data of increased antibiotic sales in farms, which should have decreased over the years.
Antibiotics seemed to be the solution to everyone’s problem when illnesses contracted from meat began to arise, but as bacteria found in these animals are starting to take on more complex forms to becoming antibiotic-resistant, these medicines may only turn out to be counter-productive. What does the nation have next in store for us to resolve this health issue? Do the negative effects of antibiotics in livestock animals outweigh the positive? Should we completely ban the use of antibiotics in the modern American meat industry or should we resort to finding new antibiotics to fight on these new evolving forms of bacteria instead? Are meat companies actually making an effort to addressing the health issues arising from consumption of their products or are they just all talk?