, Newburyport, MA


April 15, 2014

Use and abuse


The New York Times on Feb. 12 reported, “Meat producers use antibiotics to prevent sickness in animals raised in close quarters in industrial farming operations. Chickens are treated with a small dose of gentamycin while still in the ovo stage to prevent sickness that could destroy flocks.”

Chick-fil-A committed themselves in February to a five-year plan no longer to sell products containing meat from chickens raised with antibiotics. That’s the good news combined with the bad news; too bad it’s going to take five years to realize the benefit.

A growing number of restaurant chains have joined in the change to antibiotic-free food; Panera Bread and Chipotle have made commitments to serve meat only from animals raised without antibiotics. There are other changes as well, but they fail to impress Michele Simon, a public health lawyer. She writes, “All of this makes for great PR, but it doesn’t mean the products are necessarily more delicious.”

Don’t look for a downward trend in buyer costs either by the removal of offending additives. Chick-fil-A executives have stated, “Typically, antibiotic-produced chicken is more expensive than traditionally produced poultry.”

For any doubters out there, take a look at your egg selection area at Market Basket, Shaw’s and Stop & Shop. White eggs routinely sell for $1.69/dozen, brown eggs, $2.49. But antibiotic-free eggs from Land O’Lakes command $3.89/dozen, CFO Organic eggs advertised as “all natural” cage free is $3.99/dozen. Wild Harvest Cage Free from antibiotics is $2.99/dozen. Nellie’s Cage Free, no hormones and no antibiotics, is $3.99/dozen.

All I can say is, caveat emptor or “Let the buyer beware!


Robert D. Campbell, an essayist who lives in Newburyport, believes that a sense of humor is essential.

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