Antibiotics were lifesaving drugs at one time, but are becoming increasingly ineffective at fighting the bacteria they are supposed to destroy. Why? Over-prescribing is a major factor, but there is another reason that is often overlooked; massive amounts of antibiotics in the foods like beef, pork, and chicken you buy. Antibiotics are not only used to treat sick animals raised for food, but also to fatten them up. An excellent article in the Nutrition Action Newsletter, 11/15, decodes the food labels on meats, and also gives a report card on meats used by the popular chain restaurants. As most of us know, food labels on meat packages can be confusing. Here’s a list of what the labels mean concerning antibiotic use in meats.

Antibiotic use NEVER allowed: USDA Organic, American Grassfed Association, Food Alliance Grassfed, “No antibiotics added,” and “Raised without antibiotics.”

Antibiotics used only on sick animals: Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, Food Alliance, and American Humane Association.

Antibiotic use ALLOWED: “100% grass fed,” “Natural,” and “Humanely raised.”

As far as the restaurants curbing antibiotic use, Nutrition Action rates them from A to F.

A (excellent) restaurants include Panera and Chipolte.

B (good) is Chik-fil-A.

C (so-so) McDonalds and Dunkin’ Doughnuts

F (poor) Wendy’s, Burger King, Denny’s, Dominos Pizza, Subway, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Jack in the box, Arby’s, DQ, IHOP, Pap Johns, Little Caesars, Olive Garden, Starbucks, Applebees, Sonic, Outback, and Chili’s.

Bottom line: Whenever possible, choose meat and poultry that was raised without antibiotics. Think twice about getting great deals on fast-food. If a foot-long sandwich or two sausage egg McMuffins on cost you $5 or less, think about how much the purveyors are actually paying for the meat.

Stay well, it’s tougher and tougher these days. John R Blilie, M.S.