Livestock farmers are the target of a lot of criticism these days when it comes to the meat we eat. Consumers not only want to know where their meat is coming from but also how it was raised. Was the livestock grass fed? Is it certified organic? Is it hormone-and antibiotic-free?
In a recent Focus on Agriculture column, Dr. Scott Hurd, former deputy undersecretary for food safety at the Agriculture Department, discussed the use of antibiotics in animals raised for food. Hurd explained animals left untreated are more likely to spread foodborne illnesses to humans.
The use of antibiotics is not only to prevent the spread of illness, but also the suffering and potential death of animals, which can occur in modern animal confinement facilities and outdoor group housing operations alike. Hurd said to possibly expel negative connotations about the use of antibiotics a new area of scientific study is emerging, researching whether animal health is quantitatively correlated with public health risk.
Animals, like people, are prone to illness from time to time and need to be treated. However, animals, unlike people, cannot take a sick day to prevent the spread of illness. America’s livestock farmers and veterinarians provide antibiotics to livestock to ensure not only their health and safety, but the health and safety of consumers too.