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the meat industry now consumes 4/5ths of all antibiotics

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Feedlots have begun giving cattle a new drug with a curious side effect: It makes steaks less flavorful and juicy, Slate reports. But the drug, Zilmax, helps cattle bulk up on muscle in the last few weeks of their lives -- which brings in more money for feedlot owners.

Zilmax was originally created to help people with asthma, Christopher Leonard writes on Slate. But animal researchers found that it makes animals produce more muscle and less fat. That means there are more pounds of beef to sell, but the meat doesn't have that glorious marbling that turns a steak into a masterpiece on the grill.

Zilmax is sold by Merck Animal Health, one of the fastest-growing units of Merck (MRK). On its website, Merck describes Zilmax as "a feed supplement that enables an animal’s natural metabolism to more efficiently convert feed energy to lean, healthy, delicious beef."

Four major meat companies control 85% of the market, Leonard writes, and they reportedly all use Zilmax now. They include Tyson Foods (TSN), JBS SA (JBSAF), Cargill and National Beef Packing Co. Cargill reportedly resisted using Zilmax for years, but finally got on board last year when everyone else was doing it.

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