Meat and Medicine: When Too Much of a Good Thing Turns Dangerous

Target: Members of the United States Congress

Goal: Ban the use of antibiotics on healthy animals in the food industry.

While working to restrict antibiotic use in the food industry, Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) surveyed more than 60 fast food, retail, production and grocery companies, asking about their use and policies towards antibiotics in meat and poultry. The results have been released and they paint an alarming picture of the current state of the food industry.

The report contends that for the most part, companies supply antibiotics to their animals whether they are healthy (and do not need them) or not. In a rather cut-and-dry table, companies under question were listed in order of their amount of disclosure (most to least) as well as the ranking of their policy (antibiotic-free to routine antibiotic use).

Food companies like Chipotle and Sweetgreen received high marks for their policies, as did Whole Foods, Applegate Farms, and Coleman Natural Foods. Those that did not do so well were Panda Express, Popeye’s, Domino’s, Walmart and Tyson Chicken. By helping to clear the air, Slaughter hopes that these findings will urge citizens to petition their representatives to approve her Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA)—a legislation that aims to “preserve the effectiveness of medically important antibiotics by phasing out the use of these drugs in healthy food-producing animals, while allowing their use for treatment of sick animals.”

When animals are treated with antibiotics, the drugs that are pumped into them eventually find a niche for themselves within and can work themselves into all who handle and eat them. Superbugs are able to form quickly in these environments—so quickly that humans that come into contact with the animals (whether by handling or eating) cannot adequately build up immunity to the bugs. As the bugs evolve, it becomes increasingly difficult to protect ourselves from these emerging elements.

By eliminating antibiotics from the chain, we can protect a food source that is in increasing demand and lessen the threat that a superbug formed in the slaughterhouse reaches and causes damage to those who eat from it.


Dear Members of Congress,

An astonishing statistic shows that an estimated 80 percent of antibiotics used in the United States are bought not by humans, but by the meat and poultry industries. Even more alarming, a survey conducted by Representative Louise Slaughter shows that a majority of food companies using these antibiotics are feeding them to animals that are healthy and do not need the drugs.

Pumping animals full of antibiotics is a dangerous game, as superbugs may develop on the farm and make their way to the humans who handle and eat the animals.

In order to ensure the safety of the consumer, as well as the quality of food, unnecessary antibiotics must be taken out of the equation. Slaughter’s Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) seeks to phase out antibiotic drugs for healthy animals, while permitting use for animals that are sick or injured. I urge you, as leaders of the government, to act on behalf of the population’s welfare and see to it that the PAMTA is approved and implemented.


[Your Name Here]

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One Comment

  1. Endangering the population has no meaning for big corporations.

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