Learning how to avoid antibiotics in meat


Consumer Reports says the routine feeding of antibiotics to the animals we eat is part of the superbug problem. Its just-released survey finds a majority of people want meat in their supermarket that's raised without antibiotics.

You probably assume most antibiotics are prescribed to people. Not so. It's estimated that 80 percent of the antibiotics used in this country are given to animals to help them grow faster and to prevent disease in unsanitary conditions.

This is contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, according to Jean Halloran with Consumer Reports. If you get sick, you could be in trouble.

She said, "It may be very difficult to find an antibiotic that will help you get well. It may even be impossible."

The problem is widespread. When Consumer Reports last tested chicken, two-thirds of the samples had harmful bacteria, and more than half of these bugs were resistant to antibiotics.

You can find meat that's been raised without antibiotics. In fact, at Whole Foods that's the only kind of meat for sale. But at other stores, it can be much harder to figure out what you're getting.

"We found a few labels that are misleading and not even approved by the government," Halloran said.

"Antibiotic free" is one example. And the label "natural," while government-approved, has nothing to do with antibiotics.

More helpful labels are ones like "no antibiotics administered" and "no antibiotics ever." But even better are labels that also say "USDA process verified."

"This means the government has gone out and checked up on the processor to make sure they're doing what they claim," Halloran explained.

"Organic" is another sure bet for shoppers. All organic meat is raised without antibiotics. Looking for these labels is the best way to ensure that the meat you're buying has no antibiotics.

Consumer Reports found that meat raised without antibiotics doesn't necessarily cost a lot more than regular meat. Its shoppers found it at very reasonable prices in several stores.

According to Consumer Reports, an overwhelming majority of shoppers want meat from animals raised without antibiotics -- 86 percent. And 60 percent said they'd be willing to pay more for it.

The group sent secret shoppers to stores in 23 states. Whole Foods was the leader, with no antibiotics in its meat.

Trader Joes, which is now expanding in the Houston area, did offer some cuts of antibiotic-free meat. Kroger also offers some antibiotic-free meat, even in its store brand.

Eyewitness News contacted H-E-B, which was not part of the Consumer Reports study. They say they also offer meat free of antibiotics as well as in their store brand.

Copyright © 2024 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.