I knew antibiotics were widely used in the food industry but wow. I've also known recently (last 10-15 years), we have been told to only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary due to the fact we are creating resistant strains of bacteria. Of course it doesn't matter what we do personally if the industry continues on its merry way as the bacteria strains will affect everyone.
This is an interesting article from the Washington Post about the situation:
"The heavy reliance on routine antibiotic use is a byproduct of the way we raise animals for food: packed into dim and dirty enclosures where they live amid their own filth, eat food that they haven't evolved to digest, and are pretty much stacked atop one another. Most human beings I know can hardly spend three hours on a plane without contracting a case of the sniffles.
When you give antibiotics to animals meant to become food, however, you're ensuring that antibiotics end up in the food in low but constant doses. That means bacteria are getting more accustomed to the antibiotics. There's good reason to think that this background exposure to antibiotics is contributing to the startling rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Everything from staph to strep to salmonella is exhibiting uncommon resilience in the face of our latest drugs. A 2003 World Health Organization study (PDF) put it pretty starkly: "There is clear evidence of the human health consequences [from agricultural use of antibiotics, including] infections that would not have otherwise occurred, increased frequency of treatment failures (in some cases death) and increased severity of infections." Even stronger was the title of a 2001 New England Journal of Medicine editorial: "Antimicrobial Use in Animal Feed -- Time to Stop." "
The entire article is available here: