Americans are under threat from antibiotic-resistant superbugs, making us vulnerable to common, once treatable infections (such as MRSA). A remarkable 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used not by humans, but by the meat and poultry industries so animals can grow faster and survive the crowded and unsanitary conditions found in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
This is creating superbugs on the farm and humans are exposed in a number of ways, including when we handle or eat undercooked meat. Our life-saving drugs are becoming less effective when we really need them. Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has refused to take meaningful action to restrict the use of unnecessary antibiotics in livestock production.
The “natural” label has nothing to do with how an animal was raised. The USDA requires only that no coloring or artificial ingredients are added to the final meat or poultry product and that it be “minimally processed” (although salt water can be added).
“Natural” meat or poultry products can definitely be given antibiotics in their feed or water while being raised—and can also be raised in confined spaces with thousands of other animals, given hormones and other drugs, fed animal by-products and subjected to many other unnatural practices.
Consumers should beware of several labels that are unapproved by the USDA, such as “antibiotic-free” and “no antibiotic residues”, that could mislead them to think a product was raised without any antibiotics, when in fact that may not be the case. –Consumer’s Union
If you choose to eat meat, please be a conscientious consumer. The best sources of clean, healthy animal products are generally those that are organic, grass-fed, often sold at farmers’ markets or CSA-style meat-shares (visit Eatwild, LocalHarvest or Real Time Farms to find resources in your area).