New rules could doom us all to superbug infections

The FDA was faced with a choice: Protect Americans, or protect two powerful industries.

And for once, the agency chose to protect you by unveiling tough new rules to curb the overuse and outright abuse of antibiotics on factory farms.

I'm kidding (of course).

As usual, the FDA caved to the very industries it's supposed to regulate -- the food industry and the drug industry -- by unveiling toothless new rules that will do nothing to change how antibiotics are used on factory farms.

Under the old rules, antibiotics could be dumped willy-nilly into the feed just to help the animals get fat.

Under the new rules, antibiotics will still be dumped willy-nilly into the feed, there's just an extra step in the process. Instead of buying feed pre-spiked with antibiotics, they have to get the drugs from a vet and then dump it in.

And instead of coming right out and admitting they use antibiotics to make the animals fat -- a confession none of the meat producers make right now anyway, even if it's legal -- they will have to claim it's to prevent disease.

It's not an inaccurate claim.

Factory farms are absolutely filthy, and incredibly cramped -- and when disease spreads, it spreads lightning fast. So farms often drug the animals all the time, to stop the outbreaks before they start.

Of course, there's a better solution that involves no drugs at all -- just cleaner and more humane conditions.

But that costs money. Medicating all the animals at once is not only dirt cheap, it also has the highly profitable side effect of making them fatter.

That's why close to 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the country are used on animals on factory farms. They're used so often that bacteria quickly learn to resist, making factory farms the nation's leading source of drug-resistant superbugs.

And those germs will end up in your meat -- and not someday, in the distant future.

It's already happening right now.

Consumer Reports just unveiled the results of tests on more than 300 packages of chicken and found disease-causing bacteria in 97 percent of them -- and drug-resistant bacteria in half.

That's consistent with government tests last year that found disease-causing bacteria in 87 percent of 480 meat samples collected -- and, again, superbugs in half of them.

In other words, you're one undercooked meal away from joining the 2 million Americans sickened -- or 23,000 killed -- by superbugs every year.

The FDA's new rules will ensure both numbers continue to rise. But while they won't act, you can. There are three steps you can take right now to protect yourself and your family and minimize your risk.

Step 1: Eat only meats from small (and humane) organic farms, since these animals are not given antibiotics.

Step 2: Take a probiotic supplement. Antibiotics may not kill superbugs, but the friendly bacteria in a quality probiotic supplement can -- and in many cases, they're not just your best bet.

They're you're only bet.

Step 3: Make sure you're not part of the problem. Don't take antibiotics when you don't have to -- and that means don't take them for the cold, flu, bronchitis, sore throat and more. Read this free report from my House Calls archives to learn why.

The best way to make sure you take these drugs only when necessary is to work with a holistic integrative physician who knows when you need them and when you don't.

And if you're in Southern California, I can help. Contact my clinic for more information or to make an appointment.

I'm also available for telephone consultations. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a call.