By Teresa Green, Linda Golodner Food Safety and Nutrition Fellow Last week, the FDA made an important decision to prohibit the extra-label use of cephalosporin drugs in certain kinds of livestock. This means that these drugs can no longer be used for purposes other than their intended use. This is an important decision and one NCL supports. When considering the issue of antibiotics in food-producing animals, it’s important to understand just how widespread antibiotic use is. 80% of the antibiotics used in this country are used in animals. Why is this number so astronomically high? There are several reasons why farmers use antibiotics in their livestock.
- Farmers use antibiotics when their animals become ill.
- Farmers raising large herds of animals will often put antibiotics in their feed preemptively. Because disease can spread quickly and widely in a crowded setting like a feedlot, many farmers see preemptive treatment with antibiotics as a necessary part of business.
- Farmers also give their livestock antibiotics for growth promotion. In these instances, antibiotics are given to a healthy animal to promote faster and more widespread growth. This treatment with antibiotics helps farmers’ bottom lines.