According to the Center for Disease Control, the overuse of antibiotic drugs in livestock animals can cause a drug-resistance in bacteria. Overuse occurs when meat producers use antibiotics to promote faster growth in livestock animals while feeding them less. However, overuse of antibiotics does not usually occur when used in the case of a sick animal. The United States Food and Drug Administration has introduced a strategy that recommends antibiotic usage only in cases of animals with bacterial illnesses.
The two Chipotle advertisements we watched in class piqued my interest about meats raised using antibiotics. Chipotle has made many claims to not selling meat products that come from animals that have been exposed to antibiotics. However, their claim is not quite true. Furthermore, their claim greatly limits the amount of meat they can use.
For example, when humans are sick, we are often given antibiotics to fight off bacterial infections. When animals are sick with a bacterial infection, they are given the same treatment. Because of their strict promise of meats produced without the use of antibiotics, Chipotle has had to sell many animals that were given antibiotics for bacterial infection use. These animals are sold for less money than Chipotle originally paid, losing some money for the company. However, this can become a problem when the company encounters problems, such as meat shortages.
What is the most interesting about this is the way Chipotle has framed the use of antibiotics. The videos we watched clearly made a villain out companies who use meat sourced from producers who use antibiotics. While the videos also exposed aspects of factory farming, antibiotic usage was a major theme in both videos. However, the extreme and sweeping notion that all antibiotic usage is terrible has caused them to run into problems with sourcing ‘good’ meat.
This meat, clean from antibiotics, is not always available. In these situations, it has been Chipotle’s policy to source meat from more conventional backgrounds. In September of 2015, Time Magazine reported that Chipotle uses antibiotic-free meat about 90 percent of the time. Because of the availability, Chipotle has had to slightly relax their no-antibiotic claim.
– Chelsea Walters