Cattle packed in factories, fed feeds made of grain flours and routinely containing antibiotics to prevent the spread of infections. These cattle will probably never see the light of day.
The American Dream
The gold rush... The giant skyscrapers... Farms as big as a small city.... Capitalism all the way... Money before health and care...
America has never been known to do things in good proportion.
Everything has to be big... and loud.
Cookies the size of a Frisbee... and so on.
The highest rate of obesity and metabolic and chronic diseases in the world.
Food full of salt, sugar and additives, preservatives and chemicals only allowed in this particular part of the world (and whichever country the US has a trade deal with) to make sure that food is actually palatable.
Forget nutritious... Some of the processed food available in the US should not even be classified as food.
But why should we be concerned when the UK is on the of other side of the ocean?
The UK and the US have had talks about trade deals early this year, many of which concern our everyday food supplies.
Since Brexit is heading straight into a wall — "NO-DEAL" the outcome aimed for, so that the UK is at the mercy of giant conglomerates desperately waiting to be freed from their chains,
No matter Europe, as it stands, is a political and money-making institution that only benefits its own members (not the actual country but those self-elected peers put in place to represent it), and needs to be completely redone from the ground up with elected representatives.
But Europe has put in place many sets of rules and regulations that are far superior than most countries. Farming practices and food standards are some of the most rigid in the world, and the UK has benefited all the way since its addition to the European commission.
But no longer...
We already have heard about chlorinated chicken as it made headlines following the trade talks between the US and the UK earlier this year.
Waitrose and some other stores have already taken a stand against it. Reassuring their customers that the chain of supermarkets will not sell chlorinated chicken.
Chemically washing chicken is, in fact, an excuse for slaughterhouse and meat-processing factories to keep cleaning and hygiene standard as basic as possible. And so, chlorine and other washes are used to rectify issues caused by poor hygiene. Chicken is dipped in bleach and other toxic chemicals in the hope that it will not be contaminated from being handled in a dirty factory.
Since chemical washes are classed as ‘processing aids’, rather than ingredients, they don’t have to be declared on packaging.
Having interviewed many meat factory workers, there is a clear problem when it comes to hygiene, even in the UK. It is not an isolated incident when a factory is closed for a few weeks because they have failed their last inspection.
But the problem it is not only chlorinated chicken. At present, the EU has a ban on the importation of US beef, due to the use of growth hormones in the cattle in the US. However, post-Brexit, there exists the possibility that the UK will allow US beef to be imported as part of that trade deal with the US. The finding that antibiotic use in US cattle is 9 to 16 times higher than it is in British cattle, raises further concerns about the ways in which US beef is produced, and the potential dangers it may pose to consumers.
Growth-promoting hormones are used in beef cattle in the US because cattle are often kept in ‘feedlots’ — cattle are packed in their thousands in factories, kept in pens and fed intensive diets that encourage weight gain. Because, as we know, meat products are always sold by weight, the heavier the animal the more money an animal returns — no matter that it is virtually retaining water and oversized (and most probably diseased).
So, if we know that already. Once the UK is out of Europe, it can only get worse, and people living in this country will be at the mercy of those giant conglomerates.
UK vs US farming: what’s the difference?
Regulations brought in by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January 2017 banned the use of antibiotics on livestock without a prescription from a vet and made it illegal to use the drugs solely to make animals fatter, which for years had been common practice on industrial farms.
US farmers have slashed the use of antibiotics in meat and milk by a third, new figures from the Food and Drug Administration reveal. The amount of antibiotics sold to farmers dropped by almost three million kilograms between 2016 and 2017, according to the new data. But these data only include over-the-counter use of antibiotics. The new rules meant the drugs, formerly available over the counter, can now only be obtained with a veterinarian’s order.
The FDA has indicated that it supports the continued use of antibiotics for preventative mass medication and has provided advice to the pharmaceutical industry on how to add “new indications” to an existing growth-promoting product, so that the product can be re-licensed for “for treating, controlling, or preventing a particular disease”, which means that antibiotics are not labelled as growth-promoters but can be used by animal factories for that exact purpose.
The overuse of farm antibiotics in the US is not just due to poor regulation of antibiotic use, but to highly intensive farming systems which promote poor animal health and routinely gives rise to infections in livestock.
For example, weaning of piglets in the US are tolerated as early as two weeks, when in Europe it is set at 21 days, because early weaning leads to diarrhoea (the piglet digestive system is not yet ready to handle grains or flour-based feeds), and subsequently leads to much higher levels of antibiotic use,
The particularly large difference in antibiotic use in cattle between the two countries, to use as another example, is likely to be at least in part due (again) to the more industrial-type farming systems used in US cattle farming in comparison to the UK. (https://www.soilassociation.org/media/14610/top-10-food-safety-risksposed-by-a-us-uk-trade-deal.pdf)
The European Union banned using antibiotics as growth promoters in 2001. But the practice was still legal in the US – one of the biggest producers of meat in the world – until more than a decade and a half later.
Up until recently, very little data was available on farm use of medically important antibiotics in different animal species in both the UK and the US. This was due to the fact that the regulatory bodies only collect data on the sales of veterinary antibiotic products from the pharmaceutical companies, and many of these products are licensed for use in more than one animal species. However, in the past three months, a large amount of new information on antibiotic use in different livestock species has become available, although the data is still incomplete. This information has largely been published by the regulatory bodies, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) in the UK and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US.
The FDA data shows that in 2015, 74% of farm-animal antibiotics were administered in feed and 21% in drinking water. This means that approximately 95% of farm antibiotics are being used for mass medication — which means it is used preventively, rather than to treat cases of bacterial infections and to prevent the spread of infections in overcrowded, dirty factories.
Total antibiotic use in human medicine in the US in 2011 was 3,290 tonnes of active ingredient , so the use of medically important antibiotics in food animals in the US is approximately three times higher than human use. These data do not include the further 5,785 tonnes of non-medically important antimicrobials (including 4,741 tonnes of the ionophore antibiotics) which are used in US farm animals.
The overuse of antibiotics in human medicine and in livestock has accelerated the rise of resistant bacteria, commonly known as superbugs. They can lead to drug-resistant superbugs, which is the number one concern in the world as it may the biggest threat humans have ever faced and will have to face. Currently, more than 153,000 people in the US died of superbug infections in 2010, a recent study found.
Overall the use of antibiotics on US farms has fallen to nearly 5.6 million kilograms since it peaked in 2015, but the widespread of certain antibiotics, life fluoroquinolones, continues to increase year after year.
The US-2005 ban on the use of fluoroquinolones in poultry has proven effective in helping limit the rise of fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter infections in humans, which is now much higher in the European Union. However, other than this action, little has been done by regulatory authorities to reduce inappropriate and unnecessary use of farm antibiotics.
According to the FDA latest report (2016), US sales of medically important antibiotics by farm-animal species (FDA estimate) in weight of active ingredient (kg) is still astonishing: 8,361,740 kg of active ingredient. sold and used in the US. If we break down to each type of animal, the result are estimated to be: 58 mg/kg per chicken (compared to 17 mg/kg in the UK), 237 mg/kg per cattle (15-25 mg/kg in the UK), 479 mg/kg per turkey (86 mg/kg, in the UK), and 349 mg per kg per pig (183 mg/kg, in the UK). An average of 221 mg/kg (US), while the overall estimate of antibiotic use in UK farm animals is 45 mg/kg. So overall US farm antibiotic use is nearly five times UK use per unit of livestock.
There are also cases of the US treating plant diseases with antibiotics. In 2019, the US Environmental Protection Agency allowed citrus growers in Florida to spray their trees with antibiotics to delay the spread of citrus greening, a bacterial infection.
The journal Nature estimated growers could have used as much as 440,000kg of antibiotics over the course of the year. Antibiotics can’t be used on plant crops in the UK.
According to Which: "The US currently uses 72 pesticides that are not approved for use in the UK. These include known carcinogens, possible endocrine disruptors, and those that cause harm to the development and reproductive systems of children. Conversely there are two pesticides approved for use in the UK and EU but not in the US. Permitted pesticide residues also differ; US grapes can contain as much as 1000 times the level allowed in the UK. And US apples up to 400 times more." (https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/07/uk-vs-us-farming-whats-the-difference)
There is concern that the UK’s more rigid food standards could be compromised when negotiating trading deals with countries including the US, resulting in food produced to lower standards being imported into the UK, unless new laws are put into place.
The government has said rules on food standards will be upheld through retained EU legislation via the EU Withdrawal Act; however, there is nothing to enforce this decision and nothing to make the UK government accountable for future failures.
It is important we make our voice heard and make the government pass laws to protect food standards, our food chain, and the health of he population, including the health of our kids.
And to protect ourselves from the impending catastrophe that is antibiotic-resistance and the dangerous and ongoing rise of the superbugs.
Food and Drug Administration, 2016. 2015 SUMMARY REPORT On Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals, Department of Health and Human Services December, 2016, https://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForIndustry/UserFees/AnimalDrugUserFeeActADUFA/UCM 534243.pdf
Food and Drug Administration, 2005. FDA Announces Final Decision About Veterinary Medicine, http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2005/ucm108467.htm
Food and Drug Administration, 2012. Drug use review, https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/UCM319435.pdf
Veterinary Medicines Directorate, 2016. Veterinary antimicrobial resistance and sales surveillance, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/582341/1 051728-v53-UK-VARSS_2015.pdf
United States Department of Agriculture, 2016. Overview of U.S. Livestock, Poultry, and Aquaculture Production in 2015, https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/downloads/Demographics2015.pdf
ESVAC, 2016. Sales of veterinary antimicrobial agents in 29 EU/EEA countries in 2014, http://www.ema.europa.eu/ema/pages/includes/document/open_document.jsp?webConte ntId=WC500214217
Food and Drug Administration, 2013. Phasing out certain antibiotic use in farm animals https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm378100.htm
Food and Drug Administration, 2013. Guidance for industry, New Animal Drugs and New Animal Drug Combination Products Administered in or on Medicated Feed or Drinking Water of FoodProducing Animals: Recommendations for Drug Sponsors for Voluntarily Aligning Product Use Conditions with GFI #209, https://www.fda.gov/downloads/AnimalVeterinary/GuidanceComplianceEnforcement/Guid anceforIndustry/UCM299624.pdf
United States Department of Agriculture, 2014. Antimicrobial resistance action plan, https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/usda-antimicrobial-resistance-actionplan.pdf
Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, 2016. Why the use of fluoroquinolones in poultry must be banned, http://www.saveourantibiotics.org/media/1495/why-the-use-of-fluoroquinoloneantibiotics-in-poultry-must-be-banned-alliance-to-save-our-antibiotics-july-2016.pdf
Sjolund. et al., (2016). Quantitative and qualitative antimicrobial usage patterns in farrowtofinish pig herds in Belgium, France, Germany and Sweden, Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 13: 41-50,
Postma, et al. (2016). The biosecurity status and its associations with production and management characteristics in farrow-to-finish pig herds, Animal, 10: 478-89, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26567800
Ketchem and Rix. (2014). How much weaning age variation does your farm have?, National Hog Farmer, http://www.nationalhogfarmer.com/business/how-much-weaning-agevariation-does-your-farm-have
Food and Drug Administration, 2017. 2016 Summary report on antimicrobials sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals, https://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForIndustry/UserFees/AnimalDrugUserFeeActADUFA/UCM 588085.pdf
Veterinary Medicines Directorate, Understanding the Population Correction Unit used to calculate antibiotic use in food producing animals, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/580710/1 101060-v1-Understanding_the_PCU_-_gov_uk_guidance.pdf
Food and Drug Administration, 2017. FDA’s Proposed Method for Adjusting Data on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals, Using a Biomass Denominator, https://www.fda.gov/downloads/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/AntimicrobialResistance/U CM571099.pdf
Overview of U.S. Livestock, Poultry, and Aquaculture Production in 2016, https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/downloads/Demographics2016.pdf
USDA, Hogs: Annual and cumulative year-to-date U.S. trade - All years and countries, https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/DataFiles/81475/Hog_YearlyFull.xls?v=43108
USDA, Chickens, turkeys, and eggs: Annual and cumulative year-to-date U.S. trade - All years and countries, https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/DataFiles/81475/BroilerTurkey_YearlyFull.xls?v=43108
USDA, Cattle: Annual and cumulative year-to-date U.S. trade - All years and countries, https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/DataFiles/81475/Cattle_YearlyFull.xls?v=43108
Veterinary Medicines Directorate, 2017. VARSS 2016, UK – Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveillance Report, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/veterinaryantimicrobial-resistance-and-sales-surveillance-2016
National Marines Fisheries Service, 2017. Fisheries of the United States, 2016 Report, https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/resource/document/fisheries-united-states-2016-report
https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/07/uk-vs-us-farming-whats-the-difference/ - Which?
Registered Naturopath, Nutritional Therapist, Iridologist, Lecturer, NLP practitioner and Personal Performance Coach.