Hold off on strapping on that party hat, and put the champagne back on ice, my friend.
Looks like that “Adios to Antibiotics” party you’re planning is a bit premature.
Okay, I’ll admit that when I first spotted the announcement I was ready to throw a party, too. But once I dug into the details on the FDA’s new “limitations” on antibiotic use in farm animals, well, let’s just say a party was the last thing on my mind.
FDA’s failure to act put your health at risk
For years now the FDA has been dragging its feet, burying its head in the sand and—let’s face it—kowtowing to the interests of the twin terrors known as Big Pharma and Big Food. Meanwhile, a looming public health crisis became a full-blown horrific reality.
Antibiotic resistance didn’t sneak up on us either … not by a long shot. The reality is we’ve known for YEARS that it was a growing problem. And so has the FDA, which has been aware of the issue since 1977!
I started warning my own Guide to Good Health and NorthStar blog readers that the antibiotic use in farm animals was a crisis on the verge of exploding years ago.
And … KABOOM! ... It’s done just that. We’ve literally run out of drugs to treat out-of-control drug-resistant superbugs, and dosing up our food supply with antibiotics is at the heart of the problem.
Factory farms breed drug-resistant superbugs
As I write this, in the United States alone we have roughly four times the amount of antibiotic use in farm animals as we do in people. Typically, factory farms dump these drugs into the food and water of the animals.
The crowded, filthy and stressful living conditions that the majority of food animals live in is a breeding ground for illness. So dosing your Sunday dinner up on antibiotics is the only way these factory farms can manage to keep the animals alive long enough to make it to market. And those very same drugs have an added “benefit,” and that is they help fatten the animals up quickly on less food.
But what’s a win for both Big Pharma and Big Food is a loss for you and me, because those same factory farms are breeding grounds for dangerous drug-resistant bugs. And when those nasty bugs find their way into US, the antibiotics that we should be able to use to fight them off are perfectly useless, leading to serious and even deadly consequences.
FDA’s “limitations” are too little too late
So, naturally, an announcement that the FDA has FINALLY committed to limiting antibiotic use in farm animals seems like a reason to celebrate. That is until you look at devil hidden in the details.
What this so-called “limitation” actually turns out to be is nothing more than a request to voluntarily participate in a plan to curb the use of these drugs for “growth promotion.”
That’s right; the FDA is asking the drug companies if they would pretty please consider changing the label on their drugs to say that users should limit their use to medical purposes only.(You know, like the miserable failure of a voluntary approach they’ve had in place for years.)
You certainly don’t need me to tell you that the word “voluntarily” is essentially a synonym for “loophole.” Like, for instance, the fact that limiting the drugs for growth promotion still leaves disease prevention on the table. And if you think the factory-farm big wigs will hesitate for even one second about labeling their usage as “disease prevention” I’ve got a bridge to sell ya in Brooklyn.
Besides, actually enforcing these practices on the farm is a whole different animal. Let’s face it; The FDA doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation when it comes to protecting our food supply.
The glimmer of good news is that the two drug companies responsible for the majority of drugs used on factory farms (right now) have said they intend to comply with the request. Only time will tell if they’re being truthful about the labeling change (not drug companies strong suit), and whether it will amount to anything more than reputation building if they do.
I, for one, won’t be holding my breath.
And don’t forget to take your daily dose of gut-restoring probiotics to shore up your immune system. You can read more about it right here on the NorthStar Blog.