Tuesday July 23rd 2019

Tough limits set on antibiotic use

Meat producers in California will be barred from routinely feeding antibiotics to healthy animals under legislation recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. The new law, which goes into effect in January 2018, enacts the toughest limits in the country to date on the use of antibiotics in livestock, according to Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports.

Health care experts agree that the overuse of antibiotics for meat production threatens public health by contributing to the spread of dangerous, drug-resistant superbugs.

“We can’t afford to waste antibiotics on healthy animals at a time when these critical drugs are losing their power to treat disease,” said Elisa Odabashian, director of Consumers Union’s West Coast office.

Approximately 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are fed to mostly healthy animals like cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys to make them grow faster and to prevent disease in crowded and unsanitary industrial farms.  This practice promotes the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can spread to communities.  As antibiotic resistance grows, the medications used to treat infections in people become less effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that drug-resistant infections sicken at least two million people every year and that 23,000 die as a result.

The American Nurses Association has long been concerned about the overuse of antibiotics, and its governing body passed a resolution in 2004 calling for policymakers, meat and poultry producers, and bulk purchasers of meat to promptly phase out the non-therapeutic use of medically important antibiotics.

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