ground turkeyThe meat industry wants us to believe that routinely feeding antibiotics to animals is nothing to worry about.

But a new investigation from Consumer Reports found plenty of reasons to be concerned.

The study analyzed 257 samples of both conventional and ‘no antibiotics’ ground turkey from supermarket shelves and found widespread bacterial contamination.  But the  bacteria in the meat from conventionally raised turkeys — which can be routinely fed antibiotics — was shown to harbor more antibiobic-resistant ‘superbugs’ than meat from birds raised without antibiotics.

“Our findings strongly suggest that there is a direct relationship between the routine use of antibiotics in animal production and increased antibiotic resistance in bacteria on ground turkey.  It’s very concerning that antibiotics fed to turkeys are creating resistance to antibiotics used in human medicine,” said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Director of the Food Safety and Sustainability Group at Consumer Reports.  “Humans don’t consume antibiotics every day to prevent disease and neither should healthy animals.”

Eighty percent of all the antibiotics sold in the United States are given to food animals so they can grow bigger and tolerate unsanitary conditions. This daily use of antibiotics kills off those bacteria vulnerable to drugs, leaving immune ‘superbugs’ to flourish and spread to animals, the environment, and eventually, us.

The Consumer Reports study prompted letters from the organization to several U.S. regulatory agencies to discuss the findings.   A letter to the USDA asks the agency to adopt tighter standards regarding disease-causing bacteria in meat.  A second letter urges the FDA to restrict antibiotics use in food animals to only allow for the treatment of sick animals.

Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) to restrict the use of antibiotics on industrial farms.     The Congresswoman pointed to the Consumer Reports findings as  “another study, another confirmation that we are throwing away one of the greatest achievements in medical history: the development of the antibiotic.”

Tell your members of Congress that it’s time to take action and rein in the overuse of antibiotics in meat production by sending them a message here.