Marketing Myth: Overzealous use of antibiotics in beef production is contributing to resistance to antibiotics essential to human health.
This line of thinking is leading many to advocate possibly ‘outlawing’ the use of feed grade antibiotics. Demonstrable rates of gain can be made by adding low levels of antibiotics to feed rations. These antibiotics are not the same drugs used to fight infection in humans.
Most antibiotics used in the livestock industry are used for treating, controlling, and preventing disease. Only 13% are used to improve nutritional efficiency and enhance growth. Despite fears related to antibiotic use in livestock and resistance in humans, no scientific link has been found.
In fact the health consequences of reducing antibiotic use in animals could have far more serious implications. This may sound counter intuitive to what’s reported in the media. However, in Denmark where some feed grade antibiotics have been banned, an increased reliance on therapeutic usage (30%) has resulted because of the increase in animal sickness. The same thing happened in Sweden as well. Let it be known that this increase represents increased of drugs that happen to be vital for human health.
Even after reviewing the science behind feed grade antibiotics, if consumers still want ‘antibiotic free’ beef, there is certainly a market for it. However, politicians and activists should not make political ‘hay’ from these interests by promoting feeding regulations that endanger the health of consumers as a whole.