Perdue’s Meaningless Move to Eliminate Human Antibiotics from Chickens
By now (especially if you read this website regularly), we’re all familiar with the raging debate over the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry. Now, Perdue Foods — the nation’s third-largest chicken producer — has announced that it’s stopped the use of human antibiotics in about 95% of its chickens, and ALL of its egg hatcheries.
CEO (and grandson of the company’s founder) Jim Perdue even proudly crowed to USA Today that “We listen to consumers.”
Perdue’s move is utterly meaningless.
Perhaps. But they still apparently listen more closely to their accountants. Buried inside the headline that most major media outlets are ignoring is the fact that they’re still using ANIMAL hormones in most of their meat — and have no plans of ever stopping. Which, as a public health concern, renders this move by Perdue utterly meaningless.
Yes, the move away from human antibiotics in poultry will free up more antibiotics for actual human use to treat and prevent infection. But the lack of antibiotics for human use is not the problem here. What IS the problem is humans building up a resistance to antibiotics by eating a steady diet of those antibiotics in the animals’ meat, thus giving rise to a growing number of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”. And as any scientist will tell you, an antibiotic is an antibiotic; there’s no distinction between “animal” and “human” antibiotics in terms of this growing public health danger.
And those “superbugs” aren’t limited to human diseases; the chronic overuse of antibiotics in livestock and poultry is spawning “superbug” versions of E.Coli that are increasingly resistant to our only treatment against them — which are antibiotics. Those almost weekly headlines of mass E.Coli poisonings across dozens of states at a time are the direct result of these “factory farms” overusing ALL forms of antibiotics in their livestock.
What are “biotics” anyway?
A “biotic” is literally a part of a living group of organisms. Our cells are biotics. Our nerves are biotics. But the term “biotics” most commonly refers to BACTERIA, which aren’t all bad. In fact, our bodies couldn’t survive without bacteria. The “good” bacteria in our digestive systems are essentially the gut’s army of tiny Roombas sucking up and devouring waste products inside our bodies that would otherwise eventually turn into poisons. These “good” bacteria are also referred to as “probiotics” — which we’re all familiar with from the health food store. The first thing most naturalists do when treating illnesses or disorders, is to order the patient to immediately take some probiotics — just to make sure the flora in the gut is balanced and in good working order.
Of course, an antibiotic is an agent designed to KILL biotics — “bad” bacteria, in particular. Unfortunately, like radiation and chemotherapy, antibiotics can’t tell the difference between good and bad bacteria; they just wipe them all out. Which is why after any illness that requires a regimen of antibiotics, once those antibiotics are used up and the patient is well, he or she should for the next week or so take probiotics to replace that “good” bacteria that the antibiotics wiped out during the treatment.
So what else are these antibiotics doing to our bodies?
Besides giving rise to “superbugs” and making E.Coli ever-more poisonous to humans, a steady diet of antibiotics in our meat and dairy has other negative health impacts, including:
— Destabilizing the natural flora (“good” bacteria) in our digestive systems. Problems in the gut can lead to literally hundreds of health problems, ranging from psoriasis and eczema to mood disorders, hormone disruption, and yes — even cancer.
— Increasing fatal diarrhea cases in children. (See “destabilizing the natural flora” above.)
— Turning “good” bacteria into “bad” bacteria. Overuse of antibiotics can actually eventually damage the DNA of the “good” bacteria in your gut, causing it to mutate into “bad” bacteria.
— Increasing cases of untreatable gonorrhea. (See “turning good bacteria into bad bacteria” above.)
Why are factory farms using antibiotics in the first place?
This is the dirty secret that most Americans don’t know about factory farms. When we think of the animals we consume, most of us think of happy-go-lucky livestock living carefree lives along the rolling hills, enjoying the full bounties of nature. In other words, something like this:
Unfortunately, unless you buy locally and know the farm personally — the reality is more like this:
No sunlight. No green grass. No fresh air. No exercise. The livestock live their entire lives penned up, on top of each other, literally walking in their own shit.
So what happens when animals are raised in these conditions? They get sick, of course. So what do the factory farmers do? Rather than go back to the old-fashioned HUMANE way of farming, they go the cheaper route and simply drug these poor animals up with antibiotics to keep them from getting overwhelmed by disease. From cradle to grave, these poor souls are sick from day one, and pumped up full of drugs.
Why else do factory farms drug their animals with antibiotics? Because they also facilitate abnormally fast growth — and bigger growth — so they can rush more meat to more markets faster than ever.
And then, of course, are the growth hormones that livestock are fed to encourage freakishly large growth and mutant-style volume of milk production. The average cow NATURALLY produces about a gallon of milk a day. The average “factory” dairy cow, however, produces up to (and even more than) ten times that much. Cows, believe it or not, were never intended to be milk machines. But this is precisely what we’ve turned them into.
Most consumers think the dairy they consume comes from “happy” cows like these:
They’d be wrong. Most dairy cows these days do not graze on grass (the way Nature intended). They are instead fed a diet of hormone-infused grains to make them fatter and force them to produce more milk, like this:
Most of those factory cows never see grass, breathe fresh air, or even get the chance to at least rest their hooves. They are forced to stand for hours at a time in one place and pump out milk. Period.
As usual, Big Pharma is at the center of it all.
Of course, pharmaceuticals have enormous financial incentives to encourage the use of antibiotics in livestock. According to the Pew Research Center, pharmaceuticals sold for use on food-producing animals amount to nearly 80% of the American antibiotics market.
Let’s let that sink in.
Superbugs are not the result of too many humans getting a prescription from their doctors for the sniffles.
80% of all antibiotics produced for the U.S. market are used on animals!!
As I’ve said many, many, MANY times before, FOLLOW THE MONEY.
This isn’t about Jim Perdue “listening to consumers”. This is a brilliant use of a classic public relations move: stay ahead of the (negative) story by changing the conversation, and diverting attention away from what you’re really doing.
Which in Jim Perdue’s case is simply more of the same.