What’s in a Label? The Question of Antibiotic Use

Each morning, we might take a multi-vitamin. Some of us take our prescriptions with breakfast. When our loved ones get sick, we encourage them to go to the doctor. We take care of ourselves and our families with prescribed medicines.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that U.S. farmers and ranchers must maintain good animal care. This means making sure animals are healthy; well nourished; comfortable; safe; able to express natural behaviors; and not experiencing pain, fear, or distress. Farmers and ranchers administer antibiotics to their animals out of concern for their wellbeing, just as we are concerned about the health of ourselves and our loved ones.

There are some very mixed messages about the food-choices we make. The latest Panera commercial may make us question the use of antibiotics and become concerned about the use of antibiotics in raising animals. It’s perfectly natural to questions where our food comes from and how it is raised. Here’s what you need to know:

The FDA does not allow meat to be sold with traces of antibiotics above strict safety limits.

You do not have to be concerned about antibiotics being present in the meat you eat. The Food and Drug Administration and the Food Safety and Inspection Service require specific withdrawal times, which means a set number of dates that must pass between the last antibiotic treatment and the animal entering the food supply. Farmers and ranchers keep detailed records of antibiotic administration to make sure they are following these regulations. The FSIS also conducts random, scheduled testing of meat nationwide.

“The use of medicated feeds in food-producing animals is evaluated and regulated to prevent harmful effects on both animal and human health,” said Steven D. Vaughn, D.V.M., director of the Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation in FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

No difference in taste has been proven.

Panera claims that there is “an issue of taste” association with antibiotic free meat. No research has proven this perspective to be true. If you decide to make the choice of antibiotic-free meat, make sure to check the label.

A study by Food Safety News found that many antibiotic-free labels are not verified by USDA. Learn the USDA requirements for food labels. Look for the USDA-verified symbol when shopping. Look out for unapproved labels: No Antibiotic Grown Promotants, Antibiotic-Free, No Antibiotic Residues.

The USDA states “no antibiotics added” may only be used on labels for products if the farmer provides documentation that proves the animals were raised without antibiotics.

We care about the health of our families and our animals, just like you!

We want our animals to be healthy and we want to feed our families with nutritious and safe food. Sadly, the media doesn’t share our story of deep commitment to providing excellent care for our animals. We are very proud of how we care for our animals and welcome the opportunities to talk with everyone about how keep our animals healthy and safe.

Have questions? Please ask!

How and what you eat is your choice and we respect that freedom. All viewpoints are welcome. You can submit questions via our website or contact one of our volunteers.

Farmers and ranchers, including CommonGround volunteers, want to talk to you about how we raise your food. We want everyone to be educated and feel confident in every food choice.

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