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How to buy antibiotic-free meat

ORLANDO, Fla. – According to the CDC, salmonella and campylobacter cause an estimated 410,000 antibiotic-resistant infections in the U.S. each year.

Experts say the misuse of antibiotics is leading to a public health crisis. But there is one step you can make toward keeping your family healthy.

Labels on meat don’t always make it clear when it is from animals raised drug-free and Senior Clinical Advisor for Healthcare Without Harm, Dr. Amy Collins, is worried.

“This practice of giving them low dose antibiotics in their food on a daily basis is the perfect opportunity to breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” Collins said.

The organic seal means the meat must be raised without antibiotics, with one exception: chickens and turkeys can be given the drugs while the chick is still in the egg or on its first day of life. The phrase raised without antibiotics is not required to be verified but is usually reliable.

The way to make sure is to look for the USDA Process Verified shield. No medically important antibiotics means that drugs used to treat people: such as amoxicillin, erythromycin, and tetracycline are not given to animals. However, this still allows the use of other drugs. No growth-promoting antibiotics means animals were not given antibiotics for growth promotion. But drugs could still be used to prevent disease and provide treatment. The natural label has nothing to do with how an animal was raised. The USDA requires only that no coloring or artificial ingredients are added.

“As consumers, we should all be demanding antibiotic-free meat,” Collins said.

According to the 2017 Scorecard on Antibiotic Policies and Practices, only Panera Bread and Chipotle received an A, meaning they restrict routine antibiotic use throughout their entire meat supply chains. Starbucks received a D-plus, and Chili’s, Applebee’s and Cracker Barrel received Fs.

Contributors to this news report include: Katie Campbell, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.