petri dishes

Project

Antibiotic Resistance Project

Antibiotic Use in Food Animals

Efforts to Curb the Administration of These Drugs in Animal Agriculture Can Help Preserve Their Effectiveness

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 and increasing: They account for 70 percent of total medically important antibiotic sales by volume—a 23 percent rise since 2009. However, the available data are limited and do not detail how and why these drugs are used in agricultural settings or the implications of that 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.

Antibiotics illustration
Antibiotics illustration
Report

Alternatives to Antibiotics in Animal Agriculture

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Report

The use of antibiotics in any setting contributes to the growing global threat of antibiotic resistance, so it is important to minimize the use of these drugs. This means eliminating unnecessary uses and finding other ways to prevent infections. In animal agriculture, alternative products play a crucial role in allowing farmers and veterinarians to reduce or largely phase out the use of antibiotics. Vaccines are among the most promising and widely used of these alternatives, but prebiotics and probiotics and other innovative products are also in use or currently being investigated. Many alternative products enhance animal productivity and prevent infection at the same time, which could make them particularly attractive for commercial operations. To date, there are fewer options available for treatment.

Issue Brief

Animal Antibiotic Use Requires Drug Label Refinements

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Issue Brief

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Guidance for Industry #2131—a policy designed to ensure the judicious use of antibiotics that are medically important to humans in the production of food animals—will take effect Jan. 1, 2017. The guidance, which was published in December 2013, asks animal drug companies to make two changes for antibiotics shared by humans and animals.

Fact Sheet

Antibiotics and Animal Agriculture: A Primer

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Fact Sheet

Each year, at least 23,000 Americans die and some 2 million are sickened from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. Antibiotics are crucial to the health of people and animals, but any use endangers their efficacy, as bacteria develop resistance to them over time. Therefore, to preserve these lifesaving drugs, antibiotics should be used as little as possible in all settings—including in health care and agriculture—and only when medically necessary and appropriate.

Article

Stand Up to Superbugs

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Article

Stand Up to Superbugs

Stand Up to Superbugs is a diverse group of people from across the U.S. who are working to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria and prevent a return to the pre-antibiotic era when simple infections accounted for at least one-third of all deaths.

Additional Resources