Update #1 ·

Fatter Turkeys, Fatter Profits, Sicker People

It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . for Butterball, the largest producer of holiday turkeys in the U.S.  It’s also Butterball’s most profitable time of the year.

But this year, could it be that the largest purveyor of antibiotic-fed turkeys is sensing a threat? From the growing sales of organic, antibiotic-free turkeys?

This week, Butterball announced a shortage of turkeys. Food writer Tom Philpott suggests a number of possible explanations for the very public statement. Including the one also posited by Time Magazine’s Laura Stampler, that the “great big turkey shortfall of Thanksgiving '13 is a ‘marketing ploy to build turkey hype.’”

Hype or no hype, here’s what really matters. Butterball routinely feeds antibiotics to its turkeys. So the birds will grow bigger, faster. Right along with Butterball’s profits. Scientists say this indiscriminate use of antibiotics in turkey feed is producing antibiotic-resistant bugs. And those bugs are turning up in turkey meat. Worse yet, the over-use of antibiotics is making humans resistant to antibiotics. Which means they won’t work when we really need them.

You don’t buy Butterball turkeys. Because of the antibiotics. And because the birds are raised in deplorable conditions. But millions of people still do. So let’s tell CEO Rod Brenneman to get the antibiotics out of Butterball turkeys. Because, frankly, they’re making us sick.

More on antibiotic resistance

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