Use of Certain Antibiotics Now Limited in Livestock

By Emily Murray

As the farming industry has evolved over the last few decades, often new procedures have been implemented in order to get the most out of a crop or more meat or byproducts from livestock. While many improvements have greatly helped the industry, one has been the center of some debate among consumers – the widespread use of animal antibiotics.

Many of us simply enjoy our hamburger, sausage or any other meat product of choice while spending little thought on the process that yielded the dinner on our plates. Those who stop and take some time to learn more about the industry often become concerned when they become familiar with the process of caring for these animals before they become our food.

One such difficultly that is now being remedied is the widespread use of certain antibiotics.At first glance it may seem that treating infected or sick animals is a good thing but when we realize this means we will be unnecessarily  digesting antibiotics with our meal it raises some concerning questions.

How will this affect us? Will be become more resistant to these antibiotics should we need them in the future? Will we get sick? Are these safe?

In fact, in many cases these antibiotics are given to animals who aren’t even sick  as a preventative measure and also to spur growth prior to slaughter.These are just a few of the many questions that have been thrown around and finally as of this week the FDA has taken these concerns into their guidelines.

The class of drugs specifically ruled out for livestock use are called cephalosporins, a type of antibiotic which are routinely administered to animals. This same type of medication is also used in humans to help treat conditions like pneumonia, meningitis and skin infections.

While many see this as a step in the right direction, it’s important to note that this type of antibiotic is not as frequently used in animals as many others are. The FDA has simply ruled to limit (not eliminate) specifically cephalosporins and not all antibiotics.

On the positive side, now that cephalosporins are limited, those who need these antibiotics for themselves should hopefully be able to have a better re4action over time to these medications since their bodies will no longer be slightly immune to them.

Those in the agricultural and livestock industries have let their opinion be known that they feel the use of antibiotics in animals is having no impact on the human medical community.

The FDA initiative is set to begin on April 5th and restricts the non-medical use of these antibiotics in livestock unless “under specific conditions.” This ruling applies to cattle, swine, chicken and turkeys.