FDA to Limit Antibiotics in Animals Used for Meat

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a plan to reduce the use of certain antibiotics in animals raised for meat in an effort to protect the effectiveness of antibiotics for humans.

Antibiotics are frequently added to animals’ food and water supply to speed the animals’ growth rate, even for healthy animals, according to The New York Times. The overuse of antibiotics in both humans and animals has contributed significantly to the increasing threat of antibiotic-resistant organisms, which are estimated to kill 23,000 Americans a year.

The FDA intends to restrict the use of important antibiotics used to treat human infections by asking medication manufacturers to change labels to say that antibiotics should not be given simply to facilitate animal growth. The New York Times reported that about 80% of antibiotics used on farms are given in feed, 17% given in water and only 3% given by injection.

The new FDA plan would also call on medication manufacturers to change certain over-the-counter medications to prescription, in an effort to enlist veterinarians’ help in controlling the overuse of antibiotics. Animal pharmaceutical companies will have three months to agree to the changes and three years to implement them, and the FDA stated it was optimistic that manufacturers would comply.