Antibiotic Resistance… Part 4

Today wraps up the antibiotic resistance discussion. Sorry for all of the installments, but it was a lot of information to process! Just as a re-cap:

Part 1: overview of antibiotics in cattle diets.

Part 2: what else is fed to cattle.

Part 3: who regulates livestock antibiotics.

Today, in Part 4, we will discuss some consumer perception research about antibiotic use.

Feedlot steers getting a drink.

Why do we still have concerns? Let’s take a look at some of the consumer research…

Recently Midan Marketing and Danette Amstein released a consumer survey called Consumers and Antibiotic Use: Perspectives and Marketing. Consumers are hearing about antibiotic use in livestock through many sources (respondents could select more than one source): 46% from national news, 34% from local news, 27% from social media, 27% from friends/colleagues/relatives, and 26% from t.v. talk shows, respectively. Twenty three percent of consumers indicated their primary concern with antibiotics was the effect it could have on their family.

It should not be a secret that livestock get antibiotics. Just like us, animals get sick sometimes and they need antibiotics to get better.

From the following statements, which do you think are true?

  • Antibiotics are administered when livestock are susceptible to getting sick, are exposed to illness, or show specific signs of being sick.
  • Livestock antibiotics make our food supply safer.
  • There are no antibiotics in fresh meat sold at the grocery store.
  • The U.S. government monitors antibiotic resistance and mandates that meat entering the food supply can have no signs of antibiotic use (residue) exceeding FDA standards.
  • Like doctors and their patients, veterinarians and their farmer/rancher clients share responsibility for the proper use of antibiotics.
  • All antibiotics used to treat animals are approved by the FDA, and are safe with regard to human health, animal health, and the environment.

All of these statements are true! But according to the research by Midan Marketing, consumers had varying levels of agreement to these statements.

If you are still concerned about antibiotic residue in your meat, check out the No-added hormones & no antibiotics – meat labeling terms (3) post for more details on what meat labels to seek out or avoid – based on your concerns.

I know this blog post just barely skims the surface of the antibiotic resistance problem, but I hope it has provided you with an overview of why cattle are fed antibiotics and the responsible use of antibiotics by beef farmers. Trust me, beef farmers do not want a resistance problem anymore than you or me, so they are doing all they can do to ensure that doesn’t happen! Next time you hear about antibiotic residue in meat, I hope you will remember that livestock farmers follow antibiotic withdrawal dates very seriously and that there are several government agencies tasked with guaranteeing a safe food supply. I truly believe the U.S. has one of the safest food supplies in the world, and I have no hesitations about consuming products produced here or feeding them to my family.

AppleJack 2011 008
One of my favorite things – a grilled steak!

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