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Turning the antibiotics in animal production debate inside out

Focus on Cattle Health and Well Being

There has been a great deal of discussion on antibiotic use in animal agriculture recently.  There is a growing list of restaurants that have made public announcements to serve only meat that is antibiotic free.  Antibiotic free is not a USDA recognized food label claim.  ALL meat, milk and eggs are Antibiotic Free, it is the law.  The graphic below by Kansas State University sums it up well.

Subway® was the most recent to join the group that is adding to consumer fear and confusion.  Personally, there is a growing list of restaurant establishments that I choose to avoid because I believe they are playing on consumer fear, while hoping for financial gains with deceptive marketing tactics.  These announcements are justified by the companies as “just providing what the consumer wants – safe food”.  Buying meat and possibly paying more for it because it is promoted as antibiotic free is like paying extra for water that is marketed as wet and free of gasoline.  I believe the consumer wants to know their food is handled humanly, safely and with consideration of the impact that production methods/management have on the environment. This is true for all foods not just meat, milk and eggs, but also vegetables, fruit, fish etc.  Below is a short list of facts often forgotten by attention grabbing headlines against animal agriculture.

  1. All food products in the grocery store or restaurants are antibiotic free. It’s already the law.
  2. Animal feed has more regulations and rules than the human supplement industry.
  3. Animal agriculture has and will continue to explore natural innovations to promote animal health. 
  4. If an animal receives an antibiotic, their meat, milk or eggs are not allowed in the food supply until the USDA established withholding time has been met.
  5. The food safety testing system in the United States for antibiotics and food pathogens is very sensitive; making our food supplies the safest in the world.
  6. The livestock industry is moving to a nationwide program where feeding antibiotics for growth promotion are not allowed and the use of antibiotics for treatment and prevention is under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.  This program is called the Veterinarian Feed Directive.

We are all passionate about something. For those involved in the daily care of animals, that passion is often our animal’s health and well-being. There were numerous blogs and postings that followed the Subway® announcement; most notable to me was “Feedyard Foodie” that summarized the statement as “Subway® says a bullet is their treatment of choice for sick animals”.  The social media response to the statement resulting in a “clarification” being posted 3 days later that basically said they recognized the need for antibiotics to keep animals healthy and acknowledged items 3 - 6 from the list above (not much marketing advantage when you admit everyone will be following the same rules).

CRYSTALYX® Self Fed Supplements have always promoted animal health and performance by providing an economical and easy to use system for delivering protein, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and various additives. My recent blog on fighting stress at weaning with Brigade® is an example.  You will see a focus on products and formulas that directly impact the gut health of animals as we move forward with less reliance on antibiotics, the Bio-Mos® options already available, are just the beginning. Keeping the gut healthy will be the goal. To tie my ending back to my title, the largest defense system/organ that our animals have is their skin. Turn the animal inside out and the “skin” of the digestive and respiratory system is our focus for natural, non-antibiotic innovations to keep animals, healthy, productive and profitable.