Tonight was “dad’s night to cook.” We just picked up some fresh zucchini and yellow squash from the local farmer’s market last night (I stuffed and barbecued a big one last night for supper), had some hamburger thawed in the fridge, so I probed my memory and decided on a casserole.
The recipe is fairly simple, brown a couple of pounds of ground beef and set aside. Slice and sauté a couple large squash in olive oil, I use oil grown by my friend Irv Leen of Gold Rush Farms, and set aside. Mix thinly sliced mushrooms, a couple of cups of sour cream, a cube of melted butter and a roll of crushed Ritz crackers with the beef. Spread the beef evenly in the bottom of a 9 x 14 casserole dish. Spread the sautéed squash on top of the beef and then add a couple of cups of shredded cheese over the top. Place in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes and supper is served!
While waiting the 20 minutes for the casserole to bake, I began to think about the past several weeks… I have been to Washington D.C. to meet with reporters and writers about the use of antibiotics in livestock, discussed organic and conventional production and grassfed vs grainfed beef…PEW held a discussion in Chicago on antibiotic use and superbugs…and Panera launched a campaign insinuating that farmers who use antibiotics are lazy. I recommend you take a look at a well written post by my friend Carrie Mess “Dear Panera Bread Company” and “Here’s What Panera had to say…”
Now you are probably asking yourself, what in the heck does this have to do a squash casserole?
Well, remember that ground beef I used, here is the back story.
During the past week I have noticed an increase of the promotion of Denmark’s ban on the use of antibiotics for sub-therapeutic use. What has not been publicized is what has transpired since the ban went into place…it has not been all “roses.” These points were compiled after being able to hear a presentation by Dr. H. Scott Hurd of Iowa State.
1. Antibiotics are being used very sparingly since the ban. Farmers and veterinarians must now wait until animals are exhibiting clear signs of illness before treating which leads to higher doses of antibiotics being used to treat the animal, suffering and an increase in mortality. The Denmark ban led to an increase in diarrhea in pigs and an increase in deaths by more than 20% World Health Organization Report.
2. It is important to understand that the antibiotics used to prevent disease are not used to treat humans. However, the antibiotics used to treat disease, are also used to treat humans. The ban actually increases the use of more antibiotics that are shared in use with humans, not decreases.
3. The Denmark ban has led to a decrease of farms in Denmark from nearly 25 thousand in 1995 to fewer than 10 thousand in 2005. Farms were unable to remain in business due to the increase in death loss.
4. Since the Denmark ban, antimicrobial use has increased nearly 110% while number of animals has only increased 5%, due to higher dosages being used to treat, rather than prevent (DANMAP 2008).
5. Denmark now exports their pigs at weaning to other countries to be fed out for market, nearly 5 million in 2008.
7. Since the antibiotic ban, farmers in Denmark are now utilizing zinc to help control diarrhea in hogs and ironically, it is highly likely that this may be encouraging incidence of Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA).
8. Most importantly, the WHO has stated that there has been no evidence of improved public health since the ban. In fact, resistant Salmonella in humans has increased and Denmark had their largest outbreak of MSRA (WHO 2002).
For more information on this and other food risk modeling information, I encourage you to visit Dr. H. Scott Hurd’s page.
Food Inc. Correction #1 – Antibiotic Use
While researching statistics, data and information used in Food Inc. pertaining to antibiotic use, the only information I could locate, was from 1978. Therefore I have provided a more recent assessment for consumers, from the year 2000.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that more than 50 million pounds of antibiotics are produced in the United States each year.
According to the most recent (2000) AHI survey, 31.5 million pounds are used in humans, 63%, 17.8 million pounds, 36%, are used in animals, and around 700 thousand pounds, 1%, in plants.
Of the total used in animals, 14.7 million pounds, 83%, are used for prevention and treatment of disease.
Of all antibiotic uses, only 3.1 million pounds, 6.1%, are used for growth promotion. It should be noted that the term “growth promotion” is refers to decrease in weight loss due to disease that may occur due to stress at the result of transportation and arrival at the feeding location. Antibiotics are sometimes fed in the first rations to prevent disease until animal acclimates to their new environment.
Antibiotics may be approved for use in both companion and farm animals.
All antibiotics have a “withdrawl” period or period of time that the animal must be not be fed or injected prior to processing, so as to insure that no residual antibiotic is in the final product.
Meat for consumption is tested for residual drugs and other contaminates prior to entering the food chain. Any meat testing positive is not allowed for consumption.
There are more than 7.5 billion chickens, 292 million turkeys, 115 million cats and dogs, 109 million cattle, 92 million pigs, 7 million sheep and 6.9 million horses in the United States.
Finishing rations in the United States have NOT been allowed to contain any antibiotics since the 1990’s.
Cattle that get sick are separated from the group and kept in “sick pens” for treatment and then returned when they are healthy; this to ensure the health of the rest of the pen/herd, and reduce the number of animals that may need to receive antibiotics.
In addition to protecting the health of America’s pets, antibiotics help farmers maintain healthier animals, which helps make America’s food supply the worlds safest.
All information is data provided through the CDC, FDA, & USDA.