The United Nations is raising the alarm on antibiotic resistance.
The UN has only elevated a health issue to crisis level four times in its history. Now, antibiotic resistance is joining the ranks of HIV and Ebola as one of the most critical health concerns of our time.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 23,000 Americans die every year (and 700,000 worldwide) from infections that were once easily treatable with antibiotics. Government action has been slow and largely ineffective at addressing the root cause of the crisis: namely, the steady drip of antibiotics being given to the 9 billion animals slaughtered in the U.S. for food each year.
Roughly 80 percent of the antibiotics produced in the U.S. are given to farmed animals, and not just when they’re sick. Large farming operations dose animals regularly in an attempt to combat the tremendous risk of disease and infection inherent in keeping animals tightly packed in unsanitary and high-stress situations.
Food companies aren’t exactly forthcoming about what drugs are being used when and how, and the government has done little to improve transparency, much less enact or enforce regulations.
The pressure for change has come primarily from consumers, who are demanding that restaurants and grocery stores provide foods that aren’t pumped full of antibiotics. Consumer demand has started to turn the tide, but this powerful statement from the UN could be the motivation global governments need to step up and right the ship.
As far along as we are on the path toward antibiotic resistance, it’s going to take more than a few toothless regulations to overcome this crisis. We’re going to need to transform our food system away from factory farming and toward more sustainable food production.
Plant-based meat, dairy, and egg products are already pulling their weight by providing sustainable (and healthful) alternatives to their animal-based counterparts. Then there are innovative companies like Clara Foods producing products that are bio-identical to animal products, but without the animals: I’m talking egg whites without the chickens, and therefore without factory farming or antibiotic use.
By divesting in the conventional meat, dairy, and egg industries that are contributing to the crisis of antibiotic resistance and investing instead in these much more sustainable alternatives, industry and governments can stop this crisis before antibiotics become wholly ineffective.
The time to start was yesterday.
To learn more about how The Good Food Institute is accelerating the shift to sustainable, safe foods, visit our website.