Antibiotic Resistance - What You Can Do

JFAN Suggests the Following:

1. Know where your food comes from. Buy your meat, eggs, and dairy products from traditional, independent farmers who raise their livestock on pasture or in hoop barns and who do not use low-dose antibiotics for growth promotion or disease prevention. A benefit of buying directly from farmers is that you can ask questions and see how animals are raised.

In Southeast Iowa, visit the Southeast Iowa Food Hub website to find local sources and to download a Local Foods Guide listing traditional, independent farms.

Other Buy Fresh Buy Local Organizations in Iowa include:

2. Shop at Farmers Markets where traditional, independent farmers sell directly to customers. The USDA has a Farmers Market Directory Search where you can locate a market in your area. 

3. Let your consumer dollars do the talking, and avoid purchasing CAFO meats. Consumer choices and voices are forcing industry changes such as the elimination of gestation crates and battery cages. If you routinely purchase CAFO meats, consider changing your eating preferences. It’s going to take consumer pressure to change how meat is produced in the United States. That boils down to each and every one of us making an effort to redirect spending dollars away from CAFO meats. Easy? No. Necessary? Yes.

4. If you are shopping at your local supermarket, you are most likely purchasing CAFO meat. A large percentage of sampled CAFO meats were found to contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria.1 If you do buy CAFO meats, be sure to wash your hands, counters, and any utensils or other objects that come into contact with the meat in hot, soapy water. Be sure to cook your meats thoroughly.

5. If you have an infection that you suspect may be MRSA or another antibiotic-resistant bacteria, visit your physician immediately. Ask that they take a culture of the affected area so the appropriate antibiotic is prescribed. Be sure to take the entire course of the antibiotic.

6. Ask your local supermarket to carry locally produced, pastured meat products raised without routine antibiotics. Niman Farms, Applegate, and Berkshire Heritage Pork are some lines that produce humanely raised, antibiotic-free meats. Let friends know when supermarkets begin carrying lines that don’t use antibiotics.

7. When eating in a restaurant, ask if the meats are from traditional, independent farmers. Raise awareness by letting restaurant owners know you will only purchase dishes that use meat raised on pasture and without antibiotics. Search out restaurants that do provide local, pasture-raised meats. Find some options at the following websites, but also search online for your area as these guides are somewhat limited:

8. Support legislation that eliminates the rampant use of low dose antibiotics in industrial livestock operations for growth promotion and disease prevention. The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) introduced in the US House of Representatives and the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act (PARA), the US Senate version, would each limit the use of antibiotics in factory farms. Let your elected officials know you support these bills.

9. Sign petitions calling for the elimination of antibiotics in meat production. Search out petitions or start your own.

10. Advocate for legislation that limits antibiotics on the state level. Iowa has not yet introduced legislation that would limit antibiotic use for sick animals only. Contact your state legislators and let them know that public health should come before corporate profits.

11. Learn as much as you can about the impacts of CAFOs and antibiotic resistance. The JFAN website is a good place to start.

12. Share what you learn with friends and family about CAFOs and antibiotic resistance. The more people know, the more pressure can be put on companies to make crucial changes to protect public health. Share JFAN’s ad on antibiotic resistance far and wide.

13. Support JFAN in ways large and small so we can continue to provide community education, informational guidance, and support to the Jefferson County community. JFAN is a grassroots 501(c)(3) educational foundation, and your donations are tax-deductible.

References:

1. "Superbugs Invade American Supermarkets.” Environmental Working Group, 2013.