by Ethan A. Huff
There is a very real public health crisis looming on the horizon, and its origins stem from the common food industry practice of force-feeding antibiotic drugs to cattle in order to bulk them up and rush their meat to market as quickly as possible. And a major consumer advocacy group is calling on the popular grocery chain Trader Joe’s to step up and stop selling meat and poultry derived from animals raised in this manner, which is causing widespread health problems and antibiotic resistance.
Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, recently ran a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times (LAT) petitioning Trader Joe’s to be an industry leader on this important issue. Since Trader Joe’s has already forged the way in taking a stand on other important health and food safety issues in the past, Consumers Union hopes Trader Joe’s will once again do the right thing and nix conventional meat from its product lineup.
You can view Consumer Union’s full-page ad here: http://notinmyfood.org.
“Eighty percent of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used by the meat and poultry industries so factory farm animals can grow faster and tolerate crowded and unsanitary conditions,” reads the Consumers Union announcement.
“As a progressive retailer that has already demonstrated care for their customers’ health by saying no to GMOs, artificial colors, and trans fats, Trader Joe’s should take the obvious next step by helping move the livestock industry in the right direction – towards healthy animals raised without drugs.”
Sign the petition urging Trader Joe’s to stop selling drugged meats
Though Trader Joe’s admittedly sells a variety of organic, grass-fed, and antibiotic-free meat and poultry products, some of its food offerings still contain conventional varieties of these same meats from animals raised in typical CAFO conditions – CAFO stands for concentrated animal feeding operation, and represents the typical format in place at most factory farms. With an increasing number of informed Americans interested in safe, antibiotic-free meat and poultry, it only makes sense for Trader Joe’s to take action now and lead the way towards improved meat production standards.
“Continuing to sell meat from animals that are routinely fed antibiotics contributes to the development and spread of antibiotic resistance,” adds Halloran. “As a company that has taken socially responsible stands on other issues, Trader Joe’s could make an important contribution to improving public health by carrying only meat and poultry raised without antibiotics.”
In other health related news:
Triclosan in antibacterial soaps, toothpaste has never received safety approval from FDA
It is added to hundreds of consumer products ranging from hand soaps and body washes to toothpastes and even children’s toys, but it has never received formal safety approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And even though the chemical industry claims that the antibacterial chemical triclosan is safe and effective, there is simply no substantial evidence to prove this, and plenty of evidence to show that triclosan is dangerous.
In fact, so much evidence has emerged in recent years showing the dangers of triclosan that consumer advocacy groups have been increasingly putting pressure on the FDA to conduct the safety reviews on the chemical that it should have conducted decades ago. The non-profit group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) actually had to file a lawsuit to get the FDA to act, and the agency is now expected to conduct its review later this fall after years of obvious stalling.
But the crux of the issue is that triclosan was never actually approved for consumer use under the law as it should have been, despite the fact that the chemical has now been in widespread use for more than three decades.
The FDA’s own website explains that there is no evidence showing triclosan is any better than simple soap and water at eradicating bacteria, and yet many conventional hand soaps on the market today contain it anyway.
“In 1978, the FDA published its first tentative guidelines for chemicals used in liquid hand soaps and washes,” explains a recent Associated Press (AP) article on the issue. “The draft stated that triclosan was ‘not generally recognized as safe and effective,’ because regulators could not find enough scientific research demonstrating its safety and effectiveness.”
This draft, however, was never actually finalized.
And neither were any of the other drafts the FDA crafted in subsequent years. Only in 1997 did the FDA eventually grant approval for triclosan’s use in a consumer product, but it was strictly for Colgate Total toothpaste in 1997.
As far as all the other products triclosan is currently added to, the FDA has never approved such uses, nor has it affirmed that the chemical is safe or effective in such products.
Triclosan linked to endocrine disruption, brain damage and cancer
None of this would be all that concerning if triclosan was merely ineffective at performing its stated function. But research has shown that exposure to triclosan can lead to a host of negative consequences, including severe hormone disruption, brain damage, and even several types of cancer. Triclosan has also been shown to damage the environment, as it is one of the most frequently detected chemicals in streams and other waterways throughout the U.S.
“Triclosan and triclocarbon are antibacterial chemicals commonly added to consumer products … (and) they have been shown to disrupt hormones and can encourage the growth of drug-resistant bacteria or ‘superbugs,’” explains NRDC in its chemical index. “Animal studies have shown both of these chemicals can interfere with hormones critical for normal development and function of the brain and reproductive systems … (and) triclosan has been associated with lower levels of thyroid hormone and testosterone, which could result in altered behavior, learning disabilities, or infertility.”
Be sure to check out the NRDC chemical index for more information abou t both triclosan and triclocarbon: http://www.nrdc.org/living/chemicalindex/triclosan.asp.