Worried about eating meat with antibiotics? Don’t be. Here’s why.

September 18, 2017

“Why is it bad to eat meat with antibiotics?” is one of the top animal antibiotic questions asked on Google.

To begin, let me make clear from the outset, meat that comes from an animal that has been treated with antibiotics is safe to eat.

Safeguards are in place to keep meat we eat safe and wholesome and free from unsafe drug residues. Drug residues are molecules remaining in meat from animals treated with a drug.

This starts on the farm, where farmers and veterinarians are required to follow mandatory withdrawal periods.

A mandatory withdrawal period is the time it takes a drug, antibiotics included, to leave an animal’s body.

Animals can’t be processed for food until withdrawal periods expire, and routine testing of meat, milk and eggs in the processing plant by the Department of Agriculture and food companies ensures there are no unsafe residues.

Other safeguards occur before an antibiotic is ever given to an animal, beginning with the Food and Drug Administration’s drug approval process (yes, the FDA approves drugs for animal use in addition to ones used in human medicine).

The FDA approval process for drugs intended for animals is rigorous and includes extra studies for drugs for food producing animals to be sure meat, milk and eggs will be safe for us to consume.

These extra studies not only establish withdrawal periods, but for antibiotics also assess the potential for the development of resistant bacteria and whether public health could be affected.

All of these steps, along with limitations on use of antibiotics classified as medically important agreed to earlier this year by animal health companies, farmers, veterinarians and the FDA in an effort to combat antibiotic resistance, is animal agriculture and the food system’s commitment to using antibiotics responsibly and providing safe and wholesome food.

If you’re interested in other animal antibiotic questions from Google I’ve addressed recently, click here for my blog about why antibiotics are used in livestock and here for my blog about which antibiotics are used in agriculture.

I welcome your thoughts and questions. Please feel free to send me an email at AskDrDorman@pahc.com or call me at 844-288-3623. You can also browse our Resource Library to learn more about this important topic.