Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Foods That Contain Antibiotics


8
Milk
Just a small percentage of milk shipments test positive for illegal levels of antibiotics, but rapid tests often only look for a small selection of drugs in milk. man wai Chan/iStock/Thinkstock
Just a small percentage of milk shipments test positive for illegal levels of antibiotics, but rapid tests often only look for a small selection of drugs in milk. man wai Chan/iStock/Thinkstock

Sigh. Isn't anything sacred? Milk has faced a lot of criticism in recent years thanks to some less-than-desirable inclusions, with antibiotics near the top of the list. To be fair, just a small percentage of milk shipments test positive for illegal levels of antibiotics. Unfortunately, rapid tests often only look for a small selection of drugs in milk, and slaughterhouse testing has revealed high levels of other drugs commonly used in dairy cows [source: Neuman]. Research has backed up the presence of drugs in milk, with one in particular finding at least 20 pharmacologically active substances, including antibacterials.

Many dairy enthusiasts are so eager to skip the meds, hormones and other chemicals often found in plain old milk that they go to significant lengths to purchase raw (unpasteurized) milk directly from dairy farmers. CDC discourages this practice though, since raw milk is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness, thanks to inherent bacteria. "It can be done, but as a routine practice, drinking raw milk increases the risk of the milk itself transmitting, not antibiotics, but the risk of infection," says Dr. Katz. He adds that milk is a good medium for bacterial growth, which is why the pasteurization process was invented in the first place.

So what are we supposed to enjoy with our cookies, exactly? Often, local dairies sell pasteurized milk with a zero antibiotic tolerance policy, or you can look for a commercial brand with a "no antibiotics" label.


More to Explore