What Drugs Was Your Thanksgiving Turkey On?

By Martha Rosenberg

So far, 2011 has not been a great year for turkey producers. In May, an article in Clinical Infectious Diseases reported that half of U.S. meat from major grocery chains–turkey, beef, chicken and pork–harbors antibiotic resistant staph germs commonly called MRSA. Turkey had twice and even three times the MRSA of all other meats, in another study.

In June, Pfizer announced it was ending arsenic-containing chicken feed which no one realized they were eating anyway, but its arsenic-containing Histostat, fed to turkeys, continues. Poultry growers use inorganic arsenic, a recognized carcinogen, for “growth promotion, feed efficiency and improved pigmentation,” says the FDA. Yum.

And in August, Cargill Value Added Meats, the nation’s third-largest turkey processor, recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey because of a salmonella outbreak, linked to one death and 107 illnesses in 31 states. Even as it closed its Springdale, Arkansas plant, steam cleaned its machinery and added “two additional anti-bacterial washes” to its processing operations, 185,000 more pounds were recalled the next month from the same plant.

Since the mad cow and Chinese melamine scandals of the mid 2000’s, a lot more people think about the food their food ate than before. But fewer people think about the drugs their food ingested. Food animal drugs seldom rate Capitol Hill hearings which is just fine with Big Pharma animals divisions since if people knew the antibiotics, heavy metals, growth promotants, vaccines, anti-parasite drugs and feed additives used on the farm, they would lose their appetite. Besides, people aren’t Animal Pharma’s primary customers anyway and the long term safety of animals drugs isn’t an issue, since patients supposed to die.

One of the late Sen.Ted Kennedy’s last legislative fights was about the overuse of livestock antibiotics. “It seems scarcely believable that these precious medications could be fed by the ton to chickens and pigs,” he wrote in a bill called the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2007 (PAMTA) which has yet to pass. “These precious drugs aren’t even used to treat sick animals. They are used to fatten pigs and speed the growth of chickens. The result of this rampant overuse is clear: meat contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria sits on supermarket shelves all over America,” said Kennedy.

Because antibiotics make animals use feed more efficiently so they eat less and control disease in confinement farming’s packed conditions at the same time, they are practically the fifth food group. On a turkey farm with five million hens, antibiotics would save almost 2,000 tons of feed a year, says an article in a poultry journal.

And when the FDA tried to ban cephalosporins in 2008, one type of antibiotic crucial for treating salmonella in children, it became apparent just what Kennedy was up against. Two months after the FDA announced a hearing about a cephalosporin “Order of Prohibition” in agriculture, the regulatory action had morphed into a “Hearing to Review the Advances In Animal Health Within The Livestock Industry” thanks to lobbyists from the egg, chicken, turkey, milk, pork and cattle industries.

“Order of Prohibition”… “Hearing to Review the Advances In Animal Health Within The Livestock Industry,” same idea, right?

Read more at AlterNet

5 responses to “What Drugs Was Your Thanksgiving Turkey On?

  1. My turkey(s) grew in my backyard what *I* fed them. Drugs were not in their food–back yard production is vastly different than commercial (factory) production!

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  3. It is very difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it. Upton Sinclair

    This drugging to stimulate growth is a run-away money making fright train and until we see a real deadly health disaster or public outcry it will not be stopped. I do not see antibiotics as something that should be considered precious, far from it, they are proven to lower our immunity and strengthen bacteria. Being a lover of herbs and their benefits I can see that there is an answer in nature that would fill the gap if the antibiotics and ractopamine are banned.

    Off the top of my head here are a few herbs that can replace antibiotics.

    Echinacea root, Eleuthero root, Usnea lichen, Cat’s Claw bark, Cinnamon bark, Olive leaf, Chaparral herb, Red Clover Blossom, Lobelia herb & seed (these must be certified Organic to be assured USA grown). There are many more that people have been using for thousands of years for killing viruses and germs beyond what antibiotic’s can do. I have seen time and again olive leaf kill the herpes virus infections (considered incurable by medical science) in patients I have worked with. No antibiotic can kill a virus and they do a poor job of killing bacteria and herbs will work just as well for animals as they do humans with no side effects, as many live stock owners with a head on their shoulders have found.

    Here is an article I wrote about olive leaf, Scientifically Tested Olive Leaf Herb is Known to Kill Every Virus and Germ Known to man http://www.theherbprof.com/blog/?p=27

    A number of drug companies did their best to make a patented drug out of Olive Leaf because they were aware of its power to kill viruses and germs but they failed. They failed because it is far too powerful to work as a drug with side effects to dangerous. But used directly from nature there are no side effects except cleaning the bodies of humans or animals of viruses, germs and parasites.

    Now imagine a drug company executive or USDA official reading what I just wrote. I am proposing the use of something that is probably more effective and much less expensive than antibiotics that poses no negative health effects to man or nature. But the down side for them is the destruction of a huge multibillion dollar industry and that threatens the jobs of both the executive and the government official. In other words I am standing on the tracks in front of the run away train with an information howitzer threatening to blow it off the tracks.

    So wake-up farmers organic and inorganic this is a way to beat the big drug companies by boasting the health of your animals using nature and paying less for it.

    Doc Blake

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