In order to understand why the antibiotics in meat are a real threat to health, I will cite the confession of a US doctor who published in 2009 a book with a huge impact at that time, but still current. The Rising Plague, doctor Brad Spellberg’s book, begins like this:
There are no more antibiotics to give her. She is going to die.
It is a shocking way to start a book, be it even a medical one. But this is an exact quote of a doctor treating a patient in her 20’s for leukemia. The patient had developed an infection immune to all types of antibiotics the doctors had in the hospital. Despite the fact she had been continuously administered antibiotics, the young woman died because of the infection.
Of course, this is the worst case scenario, when antibiotic resistance leads to death, but medics claim that chances for this type of tragedy to become common over the next few decades are pretty high. Antibiotic resistance was put by World Health Organization on the list of global health threats.
And the main culprit for this global issue is the food industry. Treating animals (especially chickens and pigs) with antibiotics in order to prevent death from overcrowding leads to the development of super bacteria. See in the infographic below how resistance to antibiotics is spreading.
In US, 80% of the antibiotics production is used on animals. Fortunately, EU banned using antibiotics on animals, but the treated meat can get on our tables by other means. China, Russia, India and Brazil are the countries that will hold by 2030 the highest risk for high antibiotic doses in meat.
Moreover, the antibiotics in meat do not guarantee consumer safety. In US, beef is responsible for 46% of the food transmitted E.Coli infections and meat represented by pork, beef and chicken is the cause for almost 30% of salmonella infections.
What is the solution? Should we give up meat or should we start a revolution in the food industry to raise animals in a more sustainable way?