Antibiotics-Meat1“Public health experts have been sounding the alarm that the antibiotics we all depend on to fight off deadly infections are losing their power,” kicks off an op-ed penned by Jean Halloran of Consumers Union in the the San Francisco Chronicle today.

While doctors are trying to reduce the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs by only prescribing the drugs to humans  ”only when absolutely necessary,” livestock are routinely given antibiotics to make them grow faster and to prevent disease in often crowded conditions on today’s factory farms.

Says Halloran:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and virtually every respected medical and public health organization, we must curtail the use of antibiotics in livestock in order to preserve the effectiveness of these drugs to treat disease.

The piece calls on grocery stores to be a part of the solution and only source meat from suppliers who don’t abuse antibiotics in meat production.

As long as grocery stores continue to sell meat from animals that are routinely fed antibiotics, they will be contributing to the development and spread of antibiotic resistance. So far, Whole Foods is the only major grocer to take a stand on this important public health issue by only selling meat and poultry raised without antibiotics. If more grocery stores follow suit, it could help turn the tide.

Shoppers are encouraged to push their supermarkets to do the right thing too:

Of course, consumers can help move the marketplace through their own purchasing decisions. So the next time you shop at your local grocery store, tell the manager you want your meat from animals that haven’t been routinely fed antibiotics.

Read the full piece here.