"Would you like a side of Prozac or Cipro with that chicken platter sir?"
Sure, it sounds like the set up for a bad joke. But, sadly, according to researchers at the John's Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Arizona State University, antibiotics in livestock today are more common than you think.
In fact, two new studies of antibiotics in livestock have found that those chicken wings you had for dinner last night, and that turkey breast you're planning for Sunday dinner this week, are likely laced with a cocktail of chemicals that reads like a drugstore inventory list.
Hidden in the chicken and turkey feather-meal samples they tested, the research teams found, among other things, Tylenol, Prozac, arsenic, Benadryl, caffeine, and the antibiotic Cipro (which has been banned for use in poultry since 2005!).
So... your probably wondering exactly what "feather meal" is right? I wondered the same thing.
Turns out that it's another gross factory farm concoction. Looking to stretch their profit wherever they can Big Agriculture came up with the brilliant idea of scooping up all those discarded bird feathers, grinding them up, and feeding them to chickens, turkeys, cows, pigs, and even fish.
Yes, they're literally feeding drug-contaminated feathers to our food supply. Which, of course, means they're essentially feeding them to us as well.
(I'm sure whatever Big Ag executive dreamed up that feather-brained idea has since retired to an island in the Caribbean, living off of the fat bonus he got.)
Prozac... it's what's for dinner
But back to those scientists and what they found.
According to the one study of antibiotics in livestock published in the April 2012 issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the team at Johns Hopkins looked for 59 pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the samples they tested.
Every single sample, in fact, tested positive for chemicals that shouldn't be there, with all of them popping positive for two to 10 antimicrobials each. Other samples were laced with the active ingredient in Benadryl or the active ingredient in Prozac. And caffeine and acetaminophen were detected in 10 of 12 samples.
Oh, and remember those banned antibiotics I mentioned earlier? As you probably already know, antibiotics are typically added to the water and feed of factory-farmed animals to cause them to grow faster, rather than to treat any disease.
But the class of drugs known as fluroquinolones—which includes the drug Cipro—was banned in poultry farming back in 2005 because the drugs were found to contribute to the superbug problem I‘ve written to you about many times before.
Yet, despite that ban, the Hopkins researchers found them in eight of 12 samples that were collected from six different states! (Kind of sheds some light on why this superbug problem just won't go away, doesn't it?)
And then, of course there are the results from the Arizona State study, which were published in the journal, Science of the Total Environment. All of the samples tested were found to contain arsenic.
The FDA gets a stern talking to
In a press release, the study's lead author... and my new hero... microbiologist David Love, called the FDA out on the carpet saying, "The public health community has long been frustrated with the unwillingness of the FDA to effectively address what antibiotics are fed to food animals."
And, in reaction to the findings, congresswoman and microbiologist Louise Slaughter from New York (also recently elevated to my hero list if you're keeping score) got even more pointed in an open letter to the FDA when she said, "I'm outraged by this... This is really just a symptom of the bigger problem, which is that the FDA has continued to drag its feet in addressing this looming public health crisis."
It's certainly refreshing to hear that mainstream scientists are as mad as the rest of us about this. Maybe now the FDA will wake up from its drug-money induced slumber and do something about the dangerous antibiotics in livestock feed. (Yeah, I won't be holding my breath, either.)
In the meantime, if you haven't already heeded my warnings to go organic and buy local small-farm meats in the past, now would be a good time to start.
Follow the lead of Keeve E. Nachman, a co-author on both of these studies, who, according to an article in The New York Times said, "I've been studying food-animal product for some time, and the more I study, the more I'm drawn to organic."
I couldn't agree with you more, Keeve.