Opinion

''Antibiotics and meat don't mix''

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"For the American public's health, it's time for the meat industry to stop administering the drugs preventively but only to animals already ill.

With its blunt warning that antibiotics in meat 'pose a serious threat to public health,' the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finally acknowledged what many scientists have been saying for a long time. For years, evidence has been mounting that extensive use of antibiotics in livestock, particularly to promote growth or prevent the spread of disease in crowded pens, has resulted in the development of drug-resistant bacteria.

The issue is not that the meat itself is infected or that consumers are ingesting antibiotics with their protein, but that the overuse of antibiotics is diminishing the efficacy of crucial medications needed for human use. Estimates are that 70,000 Americans each year die from infections that once could be treated with common medications. The European Union has banned the use of antibiotics in livestock except to treat illness, but similar efforts in the United States have stalled in Congress."

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