USDA urges alternatives to antibiotics for livestock health

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Antibiotics are lifesavers. We depend on them to treat bacterial infections and diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis and strep throat, as well as ear infections and infected wounds. In response to U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidance, veterinarians and producers are moving toward more judicious antibiotic use in food animals, while keeping them healthy and ensuring that our food supply remains safe.

Over the years, scientists have developed and patented new technologies that could help reduce the use of antibiotics. Discoveries include using natural supplements like vitamin D to treat a condition of dairy cows called “mastitis,” which affects milk quality and production of cattle. Vitamin D, as well as yeast, also has the potential to treat turkey diseases.

In addition, scientists have shown that non-antibiotic methods, such as essential oils in citrus, reduce food-borne pathogens found in the gut of animals; that phytochemicals—natural chemicals found in such plants as safflower, plums and peppers—enhance the immune system of chickens; and that certain natural compounds kill food-borne pathogens like Salmonella or Escherichia coli O157:H7. Other research breakthroughs include creating new, effective antimicrobials and vaccines to fight such pathogens as Salmonella and Campylobacter to lower their incidence in chickens and turkeys and help keep consumers healthy.

Finding alternatives to antibiotics has become a global issue as the demand for animal food products increases to meet the nutritional needs of a growing population. ARS scientists continue to seek solutions by developing new methods to control and prevent animal diseases and reduce bacterial pathogens in our food supply.

Read full, original post: Alternatives to Antibiotics to Keep Food Animals Healthy 

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