The use and overuse of antibiotics in factory farming is rampant. Animals are often fed food laced with antibiotics and given injections of antibiotics when they are not sick, the argument being that it both increases their weight and is preventative against infections that would otherwise develop as a result of the animals being raised in cramped and unsanitary conditions. Over 70 percent of the antibiotics used in this country go to livestock and as a side note, 48% of U.S. streams tested were found to contain antibiotic residues, mostly originating from factory farms.
A recent study found that of 395 raw pork cuts that were randomly purchased in three states, 230 were contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA for short, which also affects – make that infects, humans as well. And because it is antibiotic resistant, the infections are often more difficult to cure. According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2005 there were 94,000 life-threatening MRSA infections and 18,650 deaths, that’s more than the number of people who died from AIDS in the same year.
Can we trust our government to solve the problem? When pigs fly. “Big Meat,” as the industry is affectionately known, also means big money – money that is paid to lobbyists and special interests groups who are more concerned with profits than public health, the environment, workers’ rights or animal welfare. That’s why producers such as Tyson’s, who was caught injecting eggs with human antibiotics that had been linked to serious side effects, barely got a slap on the wrist.
One way to avoid potential infections is to wear gloves and use a respirator when you purchase meat, wipe down your kitchen with Clorox both before and after you prepare the raw meat, and then grill the meat thoroughly, notwithstanding the link between grilling and carcinogens. Or, you could just avoid eating meat – it just might keep you healthier and you would be helping to protect our planet in the balance.