In response to increasingly dire warnings that widespread use of antibiotics on U.S. farms is making the drugs less effective for treating people, the fast-food chain McDonald’s is directing some meat suppliers to stop using antibiotic growth promoters altogether and encouraging others to cut back.
Ironically, France has been under a lot of pressure and commercial threats from the US because it bans the use of those growth promoters in animals raising.
Besides the public health risks induced by this foolish use of antibiotics, the food quality is at stake too. Lots of American friends and colleagues of mine consistently recognize that chicken and beef they get in the US taste like water compared to what they get in France. The reality is as always slightly more complex than that -- you can find excellent quality products in the US and bad ones in France -- but our ban on hormones-fed animals and the abondance of local food markets which raise the bar on quality and lower the prices are obvious reasons why the food is allegedly healthier over here.
I don't know what is the position across the EU regarding this, but with the inclusion of several new countries, the agriculture promises to be one of the hottest and most difficult matters the union will have to face in the next few years. France, with its traditional habit to defend its "cultural exceptions" will face more and more difficulties in a world that has the unfortunate tendency to set standards according to the lowest common denominator.