In the United States, industrial farms use antibiotics in their livestock to promote growth and prevent disease. About 12 years ago, Danish farmers decided to try a novel idea: Use antibiotics only when animals are sick. They did this after European studies linked antibiotic feed in animals to people developing antibiotic-resistant infections from that meat, reports CBS News. Under the experiment, pig farmers expected to not produce as efficiently as before. However, it turns out the Danish pork industry grew by 43 percent since the ban and is now one of the top pork exporters in the world. Additionally, antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals and food decreased dramatically.
But the American pork industry says doing the same thing here would increase the cost of raising a pig—about $5 more for every 100 pounds of pork brought to market, which some say isn’t much—pushing small producers out of business.
Some small producers have already opted to go antibiotic-free. CBS interviewed turkey farmer Duane Koch, who said his poultry farms in Pennsylvania became more profitable when he ditched the antibiotics. He also told the news station that people buying antibiotics-free turkey thigh meat will spend about 20 cents more than for a conventionally raised turkey.