Human Health Concerns Cause FDA to Limit Use of Antibiotics in Livestock

The Food and Drug Administration has issued new rules to restrict antibiotic use in animals raised for meat: cows, chickens, and pigs. For decades, as a matter of ordinary practice, livestock producers have added low doses of the medicines to animal feed and water to make healthy animals grow bigger, faster. The drugs will still be available through veterinarians to prevent disease. While voluntary, the changes are supported by Zoetis and Elanco, the two companies that make the majority of the antibiotic products. The policy change reflects concern about the growing epidemic of antibiotic resistance that has become a threat to human health. Up to 23,000 Americans now die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections. By restricting unnecessary use of antibiotics in food, it is thought that the new policy will make a significant improvement to human health. It’s a stark reminder of how complexly connected are cause and effect in this contemporary world.   

John Howell, Editorial Director