Mark Bittman, who has segued from being the New York Times' alpha recipe writer to being its alpha food-politics writer, ran a blistering opinion piece this week on the FDA's failure to check antibiotic use on farms. So many farmers have been feeding antibiotics to their livestock that the FDA became concerned about how many animals were being fed antibiotics back in 1977. But they kept tabling the discussion of how to regulate the problem -- and just decided the agency doesn't really need to weigh in on this issue.
Meanwhile, Bittman chronicles, 80 percent of all antibiotics produced are fed to farm animals, and more and more outbreaks of foodborne illness are caused by superbugs. He quotes a recent study that found that one fourth -- one fourth! -- of packages of beef, chicken, pork, and turkey that the researchers purchased in supermarkets were contaminated with drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Truth be told, it's probably an agency funding decision as much as it is caving in to industry pressure, but it does make that $8-a-pound pasture-raised pork whose price you were fretting over in the market look like money well spent.