When the first antibiotic, penicillin, was developed in 1929, discussions began about different bacteria being able to become resistant to the drug. Those discussions continue today for the different antibiotics used to treat human beings as well as animals, and the FDA is now talking about increasing the oversight that veterinarians have in the use of antibiotics to treat animals. Thomas Hairgrove is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension veterinarian.
“There’s a five-year plan that FDA’s talking about and one of the things in that five-year plan that’s going to affect producers is going to be we’ll lose those few antibiotics that we can still buy over the counter. Now again, most of the antibiotics used in cattle today, even the injectables are prescription anyway.”
If this does happen, Hairgrove believes the impact will be minimal to producers..
“From a producer’s standpoint, it’s not, there’s a little inconvenience there but it’s not going to be a big inconvenience. It’s not going to affect the consumer either, but it is another safeguard. At least that’s the way the FDA feels about it.”
Pete Scarmardo is a Brazos Valley rancher.
“To survive in any livestock production we’ve got to be good caretakers and good stewards of the cattle or the livestock. We’ve got to make sure that whatever antibiotics we use, we use it to where it will benefit those cattle. But you know the bottom line is we’ve got to do what’s right for the cattle and if we do what’s right for the cattle then it makes it right for the producer too.”
Hairgrove maintains that while choosing a beef product that has never been treated with antibiotics is a choice, it’s not a healthier choice.
“Everybody has things they get upset about and they’re more alarmed about and it’s kind of a sensational deal and again a lot of it is a marketing ploy. I mean we have to be frank about that, right? If people want food without antibiotics, that have never been given antibiotics that’s certainly their privilege but I do have a problem with people saying OK but if you’re eating meat raised in a conventional manner then you have risk. I would argue that you do not have risk.”