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Florida Feasts Feature Natural Turkey for Thanksgiving

November 22, 2010

TAMPA, Fla. - Many cooks in Florida are planning "sustainable" Thanksgiving meals this year, with naturally-raised turkeys. That's because leading medical groups have expressed concern that the routine use of antibiotics in animal production is creating new strains of bacteria difficult to treat in people.

Bob Martin, senior officer with the Pew Environment Group, who directed a two-and-a-half year study on farm animal production, says the cause for concern is real.

"Our number-one public health recommendation was to eliminate the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in food animal production."

Martin says at least 70 percent of the antibiotics purchased in the United States are used on healthy animals to prevent illness caused or made worse by overcrowding and poor waste management.

Some consumers complain that "natural" turkeys are too expensive.

Besides preparing an antibiotics-free turkey this Thanksgiving, Martin also suggests buying locally grown produce, which is getting easier to find in many stores.

"Wal-Mart, for example, has recently announced that in the coming years - and I think they're fairly aggressive about this - they're going to try to locally source all their produce."

Some meat industry experts argue that there is not enough evidence that antibiotics in animals cause health problems in humans. Still, many people have begun to choose free-range, antibiotic-free turkeys for their Thanksgiving dinners.

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL