When I was in Barnes and Nobles a couple of weeks ago I found a Consumer Reports Magazine at the register. The featured article was called, “What’s Really in Your Meat.” It’s all about drugs in meats. I couldn’t resist. I had to buy it…
I found this to be an interesting read because I try stay away from unnecessary medications. I avoid putting things into my body which can cause new and unexpected problems. Problems that make the original issue seem like nothing. After all, the treatment is sometimes worse than the cure. Sometimes medications simply cover up the problem and do not actually treat or resolve it.
And also – I often feel a bit insecure about farming. It’s hard. Absolutely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This article reaffirmed that I’m doing something good for the world.
The following drugs often turn up in U.S. meats:
These drugs should not occur in meat at all due to a zero tolerance policy!
Chloramphenicol, an antibiotic which can trigger life threatening aplastic anemia at any exposure level in 1 in 10,000 people. Levels over what is acceptable by Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) were found in 2.6% of samples taken from beef, chicken, pork, and turkey.
Phenylbutazone, an anti-inflamatory that is no longer allowed for use in humans. It can be carcinogenic and can cause cancer and blood disorders in humans. It was found to exceed FSIS’s cut-off range in 24 of 1,448 samples.
Ketamine, an anesthetic and experimental antidepressant which doubles as an illegal hallucinogenic . Found to exceed FSIS’s cut-off range in 225 of 4,313 samples.
Nitroimidazoles, an anti-fungal which likely causes cancer. Found to exceed FSIS’s cut-off range in 667 of 5,756 samples.
According to Consumer Reports, FSIS sets their threshold for levels of these drugs on the high side. Consumer Reports believes that the acceptable levels should be much lower. Furthermore, FSIS is testing only muscle meat and not kidney and liver – organs where these drugs would be found in higher concentration. The logic behind this is that most American consumers are not eating the kidney and liver!
How do these banned drugs get into U.S. meats?
- Improper use: This can mean animals were given incorrect doses or that the animals were slaughtered before the drug cleared their systems.
- Counterfeit drugs: Counterfeit drugs originating in China and India used in livestock.
- Contaminated feed: Accordingly to industry insiders, this seems a likely explanation. Feed can become contaminated when sick animals who were treated with these medications before slaughter are fed to other livestock. Contamination could also be introduced at a feed mill – where for instance these drugs may have been mixed into one batch of feed intentionally, but the mill was not cleaned between batches resulting in contamination of the following batches.
- Background exposure: Trace amounts of these drugs from use in humans could be present in run-off water or the soil and make their way into feed consumed by animals.
What’s being done about it?
It would not appear that a whole lot is being done about it! Penalties, which include warning letters, injunctions, seizures and placing offenders on a publicly reported list, are frequently ineffective.
What you can do as a consumer:
That’s easy – get to know your farmer!
Find one you trust.
Go visit their farm.
See for yourself just how the animals are raised.
Ask your farmer lots of questions. Trust me – we love it! I know I could talk farm all day…
Look for grass fed and grass finished beef, lamb and goat. These animals were raised outside – like they were meant to be. There is very little need for medications when animals are raised with Mother Nature.
Find pastured chicken and eggs. Then go visit the farm and verify that the chickens actually live on pasture. There is no government approved label defining pastured chicken, so this is one that you will have to verify for sure.
Buy pastured, free-range, wood-lot or forested pork. Pigs were meant to live outside! They are actually very clean creatures given proper space in an outdoor environment.
Come for a visit on October 20th.
It’s our first ever Open Farm Day, where you can see for yourself just how your meat is raised.
Source – Consumer Reports, October 2018