With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many of us are planning meals centered around a turkey. But a new report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and its partners at the Food Animal Concerns Trust says that you could be putting your family’s health at risk by eating turkey because of the way American meats are produced.
Just last week, NBC News reported an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella that is linked to raw turkey, and it is still spreading. So far, the outbreak has made 164 people sick, and one person has died.
According to experts, at least 2 million Americans suffer infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria each year — resulting in more than 23,000 deaths — and those numbers are rising.
If you are wondering what that has to do with your holiday planning, the NRDC analysis says that turkeys are given antibiotics more intensively than other livestock in the United States. The U.S. livestock industry raises animals with an intensive use of antibiotics, with most of the medicines being fed to groups of animals that aren’t sick to compensate for stressful and unsanitary living conditions.
However, this is not necessary. Several European countries stopped this practice years ago, and last month the European Parliament voted to ban such practices. Using antibiotics this way is driving a crisis in antibiotic resistance, and the World Health Organization warns that if we want antibiotics to remain useful for treating people when they are sick, we have to use antibiotics more responsibly.
So if you are buying a turkey this Thanksgiving, look for labels like “Animal Welfare Approved” or “USDA Certified Organic.” These certifications mean that the turkeys were raised without antibiotics or growth promoters. Also, be sure to properly handle and cook your turkey.
It is in your best interest to choose a turkey that has not been fed antibiotics. In the future, maybe the turkey industry (as well as the American beef and pork industries) will figure out a way to protect the consumers who buy their products.
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