Issue Brief

What Moms Need to Know About Antibiotic Resistance and Food Animal Production

Join us to end the overuse of antibiotics in industrial farming.

A Growing Threat to our Families

The antibiotics our families depend on to treat dangerous infections are rapidly losing their effectiveness, posing a particular threat to our children, the elderly and people with chronic diseases. Part of the problem has been the misuse of these drugs in humans, but another key contributor is the overuse of these antibiotics on industrial farms.

Many of the antibiotics used in food animal production, such as penicillins, tetracyclines, macrolides and sulfonamides, are identical to, or from the same family as, drugs we need to cure human diseases.

Most large producers of meat and poultry feed antibiotics to their healthy food animals, simply to offset the effects of overcrowding and poor sanitation and to promote faster growth. In fact, up to 70 percent of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are administered to chickens, cows, and pigs that are not sick. This greatly increases the risk of antibiotic resistance, and the problem does not stay on the farm.

Dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria can spread in many ways — through handling contaminated meat in the kitchen, eating produce fertilized by contaminated manure, or playing in dirt or water polluted by animal waste. Should you or a loved one become infected with this highly evolved bacteria, or so-called “superbug,” doctors may have to go through their arsenal of antibiotics before finding an effective drug for treatment, if they can find one at all.

Take a Stand

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all testified before Congress in 2010 that there is a definitive link between the routine, non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics in food animal production and the crisis of antibiotic resistance in humans. The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization also warn that this practice is putting human health at risk. Now we need your help to amplify this issue:

  • Urge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to act.
  • Contact your members of Congress.
  • Spread the word through Facebook and Twitter.
  • Participate in the Supermoms Against Superbugs Advocacy Day! Walk the halls of Capitol Hill with other moms and concerned family members to show your support for ending the routine use of antibiotics in food animal production.
  • Ask your school district to purchase meat and poultry raised without antibiotics. Learn more about how Chicago Public Schools was able to do so and get information on steps schools can take.
  • Write a letter to the editor or other opinion pieces on this issue for your local newspaper.