Antibiotic use on farm animals continues to grow


The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

If you go by their declarations and promises, meat producers are drastically cutting back on the use of antibiotics to treat their poultry, pigs and cattle. Over the past year, one big food company after another has announced plans to stop using these drugs.

But if you go by the government’s data on drugs sold to livestock producers, it’s a different story.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, which compiles these numbers, sales of antibiotics for use on the farm increased in 2014, just as they had for most years before that. . .

In addition to treating sick animals, meat producers use antibiotics to prevent disease and also to get animals to grow faster. The FDA has taken steps to stop the use of these drugs for growth promotion purposes by the end of 2017.

The FDA, and a lot of scientists and health advocates, are concerned that the livestock industry’s excessive use of antibiotics will raise the risk that bacteria will become resistant to these drugs, and bacteria carrying those resistance genes could then infect people.

Growing pressure from consumers around this issue has prompted several Big Food companies to pledge to reduce their reliance on antibiotics or announce reductions they’ve already made. Among them are the giant agribusinesses Tyson FoodsPerdue Farms and Foster Farms and restaurant chains like McDonalds, Chick-fil-A and Subway. Many of those companies made commitments in 2015, so reductions in antibiotic use by their suppliers may not be reflected in the latest FDA data from 2014.

Read full, original post: Antibiotic Use On Farms Is Up, Despite Promises To Kick The Drugs

  • JR

    The voluntary reduction strategy with respect to antibiotics was rather moronic. The FDA should have outright banned their use as growth promoters and overzealous prophylactic usage. If an animal is actually sick and needs an antibiotic, I have no qualms. But the use as a growth-promoter, in light of what we know now in how resistance can develop (e.g. low-level, sub-lethal exposure promotes resistance genes in bacterial populations), the limited number of antibiotics coming to market on a yearly basis, and the relatively few modes of actions our antibiotics have, is irresponsible, to say the least.

  • Farmer with a Dell

    Our national livestock production is up considerably since 2009 (the index year chosen by FDA) and looks to be up from 2013 to 2014 also. Doesn’t probably account for the entire increase in antibiotic sales, but could be a large part of it. The first chart in this link gives you a general idea of livestock production trends:

    More production tends to mean commensurately more inputs, at least that seems to be the case around here. In a very casual survey I asked around some of my buddies if any of them were using more product per head or higher rates per pound and, no, didn’t believe so. Same for me – not using much of anything and haven’t increased anywhere. No intention of using more, prefer to use less.

    Dared to ask a couple of salespeople who keep stopping around and they admitted selling greater dollar volume due to price markups and some expansion by customer farms but volume per unit animal, if anything, is a little off for these folks. You can be certain if sales and tons were really up these folks would be crowing and gloating about it and bragging about all the bonuses and vacation trips they’re winning for being such savage salesmen. But, nope, they’re still driving pretty much the same cars and none have much of a suntan I can see.

    If we’re using more antibiotics per animal I’m not sure where that’s happening and it’s certainly not our intent anyway. But we are producing more animals, and that’s definitely our intention.
    The USDA summary did not correct tons of antibiotics sold for tons of livestock produced. Sort of neglectful. I hope neglect is all it is but more and more USDA employees are anti-agriculture scabs. Recognized that a couple of years ago when the USDA website featured meatless Monday propaganda…for about 1 week until some of us called them out on it. Damned anti-ag scabs are embedded everywhere.