A new report released by Consumer Reports finds that most Americans want meat products that are sold in supermarkets to be antibiotic-free. The report, titled “Meat On Drugs: The Overuse of Antibiotics in Food Animals and What Supermarkets and Consumers Can Do to Stop It,” cites that 86 percent of those polled think antibiotic-free meat should be sold in major supermarket outlets, and more than one-third of those consumers would pay more money for it. More than 70 percent of those polled also said they were extremely concerned about the effects of antibiotics in their meat—and in the supply chain in general—some 60 percent were concerned about what the use of antibiotics says about the sanitary conditions and health of the animals.
The report found that antibiotic-free meats do not necessarily have to come at an excessively high sticker price either; researchers found antibiotic-free chicken for as little as $1.29 a pound in stores including Trader Joe’s and Publix.
Warnings about label claims were also issued by the agency, suggesting that several claims including “antibiotic-free,” “no antibiotic residues,” and “no antibiotic growth promotants” are not USDA approved and should not be allowed in the market. They also warned against blind faith in the word “natural” to mean free from antibiotics. There are currently no regulations on the use of the term.
Consumer Reports’ public policy and advocacy agency, Consumers Union, has also just launched a campaign to encourage supermarkets to sell meat that’s raised without antibiotics. The first target is Trader Joe’s.
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Image: Anthony Albright