Getting Smarter: A Year of Action on Antibiotics

Each November, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observes Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, a campaign to raise awareness of the escalating threat of antibiotic resistance and the measures that people can take to preserve the effectiveness of these critical drugs. Since last year’s Get Smart week, policymakers and other stakeholders in the U.S. and abroad have taken significant action to combat resistance.

In December 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued guidance on judicious use of antibacterial drugs in food animals, and members of the House of Representatives introduced a bill to promote development of new antibiotics. Support has continued to grow in the past year for legislation to increase transparency and curb the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production. In April 2014, the World Health Organization published a comprehensive report on the global burden of antimicrobial resistance. And in September, President Barack Obama issued an executive order and national strategy aimed at systematically addressing the overall threat of resistance in the United States.

Because of consumer demand and greater understanding of the dangers of antibiotic overuse in agriculture, a significant shift has occurred in the marketplace: Meat producers, large companies, and institutions increasingly are producing or serving responsibly raised meat and poultry. In March 2014, Chick-fil-A, the largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the country, announced that within five years, it will serve only chicken raised without antibiotics, joining a growing list of companies with similar commitments. 

In September 2014, Perdue Farms, the third-largest poultry producer in the U.S., announced that 95 percent of the 640 million birds it raises each year do not receive  medically important antibiotics. In addition, increasing numbers of hospitals and schools across the country are serving meat raised without antibiotic overuse to help protect public health, including the UCLA hospitals and a consortium of three large school districts in Northern California

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