A Bullet Is The Treatment Of Choice For Sick Animals Announces Subway

A Bullet Is The Treatment Of Choice For Sick Animals Announces Subway

Subway restaurants made the announcement that beginning in March 2016 it will serve chicken raised without antibiotics. Furthermore, the company will source turkey, pork and beef in the same manner within a 10 year period. A spokesman for Subway stated that company’s goal is “eliminating antibiotics from all of its meat supplies within 10 years”. Totally. I bet this is going to go over REALLY well:

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There are two different things going on in the above statement that are being blended into a mass of dramatic confusion. I want to take a moment to clarify so that everyone can be educated food purchasers.

Eliminating harmful levels of antibiotics from meat has already been accomplished. It is illegal in the United States to market food animals that carry unsafe antibiotic residues. This is a non-negotiable fact of food production. The meat that you purchase from Subway today is safe. That is the law. Subway’s announcement makes no change to that fact.

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Sourcing meat from animals that have never been treated with an antibiotic affects how the farmer raises the animal. It does not change the meat, it changes the way that the animal is raised.

In my mind, Subway’s announcement states that a bullet is their treatment of choice for sick food animals. They wish to only purchase meat that comes from animals that have never been treated with an antibiotic. Food animals (like cattle) are grown for the sole purchase of providing a high quality dietary protein. If Subway does not want the meat from an animal that required antibiotic treatment for illness at any time during its lifetime, then I have two choices: leave the sick animal to suffer until it likely dies, or shoot it with a bullet and end its life immediately.

Quite frankly, neither choice is acceptable to me. I hope that neither choice is acceptable to you.

As a cattle farmer, it is my job to raise my animals humanely in order to produce safe and healthy beef. It is unreasonable for my customers to demand the impossible. I cannot raise 100% of my animals over a lifespan of almost two years without ever using an antibiotic. Things happen – Animals can get sick. It is my job to help them when they do.

I want healthy animals that make healthy beef because that creates responsible and sustainable food production. It is the right thing to do to treat a sick animal that needs special care. I should be able to expect my customers to understand that the meat product that comes from that small percentage of animals is still fit for human consumption.

Let’s do a little bit of cowboy math to look at the reality of Subway’s statement…

In the twelve month period of August 1, 2014 to July 31, 2015, I treated 7.8% of the cattle on my farm with an antibiotic for an individually diagnosed illness. These animals were treated under the direction of my veterinarian according to Beef Quality Assurance practices. Additionally, in compliance with federal law, those animals were held on the farm until the required withdrawal time passed to ensure that no antibiotics were present in their meat when they went to slaughter.

I marketed approximately 5500 animals during that 12 month period which means that somewhere in the neighborhood of 430 of those animals were treated on my farm for an individually diagnosed illness. Each of those animals produced approximately 820# of meat and other products. Either shooting these animals with a bullet at diagnosis or letting them suffer until they died would result in an estimated 352,600# of wasted product.

That scenario is both irresponsible and unacceptable. I am a dedicated animal caregiver, and I am proud of the beef that comes from my animals. It is safe – I feed it to my family. However, some of it comes from animals that required additional care in the form of an antibiotic to regain health at some point in their two year life time.

Whilst this may sound noble, and seem like they are true champions of animals, the reality of the situation is not feasible for most small farmers. It’s like saying a child that has had no immunizations is more perfect than a child who has. It doesn’t work that way, folks. Subway may think that this is the right thing to do, but the reality is that it is nothing more than a a PR stunt dressed up as social responsibility.

Written by Katie McGuire. Send your hate mail to the author at [email protected], or feel free to mean tweet me at @GOPKatie, where I will be sure to do very little about it.

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McGuire

Writer, Blogger. Political aficionado. Addicted to all levels of government campaigns.

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