The FDA has placed limits on the use of one antibiotic in agricultural applications. Image: Flickr / jelles / CC-BY-SA

The practice of using antibiotics in farm animals has been around for decades. With a growing amount of antibiotic resistance in humans, however, the FDA has ordered farmers to severely limit antibiotic use.

Growing antibiotic resistance in humans

Antibiotics and bacteria are in a constant tug-of-war. When bacteria are exposed to a particular antibiotic often enough, the bacteria develop a resistance to the drug. Antibiotic exposure comes not only from taking a drug, but when humans come in contact with or eat the antibiotics in meat. The mutated super bugs can then infect anyone, not just the individuals that came in contact with the antibiotics. More than half of all staphylococcus aureus infections in the United States are resistant to at least four of the major antibiotics used to treat infections.

Antibiotic use in animals

Many farms and animal-raising operations use many of the same antibiotics that are used in humans. Antibiotics are often given to animals before slaughter, mixed in with the feed they eat every day or used to make animals grow more quickly. Many large-scale animal producing operations give animals a near-constant dose of antibiotics as a way to keep the animals healthy in conditions that would not otherwise keep the animals healthy. The antibiotics are often carried over in meat, milk, eggs and other animal products as they are consumed by humans.

FDA limits antibiotic use

In the first such step taken by a federal regulatory agency, the Food and Drug Administration has limited cephalosporins, which is an antibiotic of last resort in human infections. The use of the drug will still be allowed in limited situations, but it is no longer allowed to be used as a preventative drug in animals.

“We believe this is an imperative step in preserving the effectiveness of this class of important antimicrobials that takes into account the need to protect the health of both humans and animals,” said Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods at the FDA.


ABC News
New York Times
Wikipedia, MRSA

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