Bowdoin College is a small liberal arts school with a big reputation for serving great food. Chefs David Crooker and Daran Poulin make sure the 1,700 students on this Brunswick, Maine, campus eat well. In the latest Green Cuisine installment, Bowdoin chefs David Crooker and Daran Poulin discuss why they prepare healthy meals from products grown sustainably in Maine. Arnold Luce of Luce's Meats talks about the beef he provides Bowdoin from animals raised without antibiotics. Finally, the chefs share a cozy fall recipe from their campus kitchens.
"It's important to know where our food is coming from, and that it's healthy."
-Chef David Crooker
Buying products from animals raised without antibiotics is a smart choice for your family's health. Know what to look for and read labels carefully to ensure that the meat and poultry you buy is truly from animals raised without antibiotics.
Organic - The USDA organic seal guarantees that products come from animals that have not been fed antibiotics for any purpose. Producers who use the organic seal are subject to an annual inspection to verify this claim.
No antibiotics administered/raised without antibiotics - Producers may use this claim on labels for meat or poultry products if they provide sufficient documentation to the USDA demonstrating that the animals were raised without antibiotics. Unlike with the organic label, however, no third party verification is required.
Natural - The USDA defines "natural" meat products as those that contain no artificial ingredients or added color and are only minimally processed. The term does not relate to how animals are raised.
Meat and Antibiotic Resistance—What's the Link?
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the rise, creating a public health crisis. Patients once effectively treated for pneumonia, post-operative infections, or food-borne illness may now have to try three or more antibiotics before finding one that works. Over-prescription of antibiotics by doctors and veterinarians accounts for some of the problem. It is livestock and poultry producers, however, who use the vast majority of antibiotics produced in the United States according to UCS estimates.
Beef cattle, hogs and poultry often spend much of their lives in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations). The largest CAFOs contain tens of thousands of animals crowded closely together. To compensate for the stress, poor sanitation, and risk of disease, they are typically fed a daily dose of antibiotics. Routine antibiotic administration is also used to promote faster growth.
An estimated 70 percent of the antibiotics and related drugs produced in this country are used for these nontherapeutic purposes in CAFOs. This translates to about 25 million pounds of antibiotics and related drugs fed every year to livestock that are not sick—almost eight times the amount prescribed by doctors to treat infections in people.
What can be done about antibiotic overuse in animal agriculture?
The Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have recommended against the use in food animal production of antibiotics on which human medicine depends. The state of Maine set a positive example by adopting a meat purchasing policy for state agencies that favors reduced antibiotic use. Tyson Foods, the nation's largest producer of chicken, recently began raising all of its fresh retail chicken without antibiotics. Individual consumers can encourage other producers to end the routine feed use of antibiotics by purchasing meat and poultry from animals raised without them. Still, this problem cannot be solved by consumer choices alone.
The Food and Drug Administration has the power to recall drugs, and in 2005 the agency banned an important class of antibiotics in poultry production. However, this case-by-case process is slow and inadequate to address the overall problem. Therefore, UCS is promoting federal legislation to phase out all medically important antibiotics for use in food animals that are not sick. Encourage your members of Congress to support the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, so we can keep antibiotics working.
All photos in this installment of Green Cuisine courtesy of Michelle Stapleton Photography, except where noted.