FDA Slams Antibiotic Overuse in Healthy Livestock

The FDA recently called on the nation’s factory farmers to curb the practice of dosing healthy livestock with antibiotics. The Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Agriculture are likewise calling for a critical review of the widespread practice.

When healthy animals are routinely given antibiotics, the health of the herd is protected and the risk of disease outbreaks among animals mitigated. The flip side is that the overuse of antibiotics in healthy livestock can create drug-resistant strains in humans, which can have alarming consequences in the event of an especially nasty outbreak of disease. Already, drugs sick humans rely on, like penicillin and tetracycline, are being used with regularity among many healthy farm animals.

CBS News reported the results of a four-month investigation into the issue. It found that antibiotics are not only given to ward off disease in otherwise healthy animals, but also to accelerate the animals’ growth, a practice that has been banned in the European Union for several years.

This topic has also garnered widespread media attention in outlets like The Washington Postthe New York Times, and Time.

The FDA’s policy guidelines urge farmers to reserve the use of antibiotics for sick animals only, and to involve veterinarians in treatment decisions.

Do you look for antibiotic-free labels when buying meat? Chime in below!

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Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule. Read all of Cheryl's iVillage posts here.

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