The more that antibiotics are used, the less effective they become. This includes the use of antibiotics in food animals, which helps drive the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria.
Antibiotic sales for food animal production are significant. In 2018, 13 million pounds of antibiotics important to human medicine were sold for use in food animals. However, the available data is limited and does not detail how and why these drugs are used in agricultural settings, or the implications of that use. FDA’s five-year animal stewardship action plan identified critical opportunities to reduce antibiotic use and improve surveillance by updating the list of medically important antibiotics (MIAs) and completing the transition to veterinary supervision for all use of MIAs in food animals; updating out-of-date animal drug labels that lack a defined duration of use for antibiotics; and expanding data collection to include on-farm use.
To help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics, Pew is working to ensure that these drugs are used in food animals only when medically necessary to prevent or treat a specific disease.