By Bailey Roden, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern
Are you worried about antibiotics being in your beef you purchase from the store? Well, I’m here to put that issue to rest. Many people all over the world have been falling for the greatest marketing scheme of all time. The marketing scheme you may have even fallen for yourself is choosing the package of meat with the label that reads “antibiotic free.” You may have even paid a little extra to get that package of meat versus the one that didn’t state that is was antibiotic free. The reason people do this is because they assume that the package that doesn’t say it is antibiotic free contains beef that is contaminated by antibiotic residue but that is a completely false statement. By law, all packaged meat must be antibiotic free.
People who think negatively of the industry seem to have this image in their mind that animals are pumped with antibiotics but again that is a false statement. Farmers and ranchers are required to form a relationship with a licensed veterinarian called a veterinarian-client-patient-relationship. The veterinarian is the one who gives antibiotics for the specified illness for a specific amount of time. This relationship with ranchers and vets means these animals are carefully watched to ensure the antibiotics are out of the animal’s system before it leaves the farm.
This is where we find a lot of consumer misconceptions about antibiotics. Many individuals believe that once an animal has been given antibiotics it stays in their system and is consumed. That is FAR from the truth. Any antibiotics issued require a withdraw time. Some ranchers even have the cattle stay back longer than the required waiting period to ensure the antibiotics have left the animal’s system.
For these beef ranchers, their animals are their business. Their cattle are among their most prized possessions. An easier way to picture the beef farmer’s relationship with their animals is to relate it to a parent and a child. The beef farmer cares for the cattle, so when the animal has fallen ill the rancher wants to help an animal get back to health. So, if antibiotics are the way to help this animal regain its health then that’s the route the rancher will take. Similar to when a parent takes there child to a doctor to help with an illness. The parents do this because they want their child to be healthy and happy. So, next time you’re at the grocery store just remember all meat protein must be free of all antibiotics.