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FDA: 30 Million Pounds of Antibiotics Given to Conventional Livestock Annually

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's CAFO's vs. Free Range page and our Food Safety Research Center page.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) endlessly stonewalls in establishing enforceable guidelines for the appropriate use of antibiotics in livestock, the conventional meat industry continues to shove about 30 million pounds of these drugs annually down the throats of animals. And recent figures released by the Pew Charitable Trusts reveal that antibiotic use in meat and poultry production now outpaces the amount used to treat sick people by a factor of five.

An "infographic" recently put out by that non-profit public policy group illustrates a steady rise in animal antibiotic use since the early 2000s, despite near-steady usage rates in humans, which recently prompted the FDA to at least acknowledge the problem. As you may recall, the FDA put forth a new guidance last year that advises meat and poultry producers to curb antibiotic use in livestock. But this guidance is not mandatory and actually allows the food industry to regulate itself, a failed approach that will obviously lead to little change.

"[W]hile human antibiotic use has leveled off at below 8 [million] pounds annually, livestock farms have been sucking in more and more of the drugs each year -- and consumption reached a record nearly 29.9 [million] pounds in 2011," writes Tom Philpott for Mother Jones. "To put it another way, the livestock industry is now consuming nearly four-fifths of the antibiotics used in the U.S., and its appetite for them is growing."   


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