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The Food and Drug Administration announced on Wednesday that it has set new guidelines in an effort to phase out antibiotic use on farm animals.
Antibiotics are being used as a growth enhancer in livestock and U.S. regulators are worried that it could lead to an increased resistance in humans to these antibiotics, Reuters reports.
The new regulations don't eliminate the use of these antibiotics on sick livestock, but should be used sparingly over the next three years. The new program is only voluntary, but Eli Lilly & Co and Zoetics Inc, two pharmaceutical companies who provide the antibiotics, have promised to be involved in paring back use.
The FDA said in a release, "Because antimicrobial drug use in both humans and animals can contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance, it is important to use these drugs only when medically necessary."
FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine Michael Taylor felt the move was a good one for the industry, notes Los Angeles Times. Eighty percent of the country's antibiotics supply goes to farms and there has been a rise in drug-resistant infections across the country.
One instance was that the salmonella from Foster Farms chicken plants in which nearly 40 percent of those infected were hospitalized, was known to be antibiotic-resistant.