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Court Orders the FDA to Examine Antibiotic Use on Farm Animals

Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 3:30pm

Guest blog post from Suzanne McMillan, ASPCA Director of Farm Animal Welfare

On March 22, a federal judge ruled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must address the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals. The fact is, factory farms feed drugs like those in the penicillin family to animals even when they’re not sick. The drugs are used to speed up the animals’ growth and compensate for their unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, which are major breeding grounds for illnesses. Indeed, the same drugs that we take when we are sick are routinely fed to healthy animals!

The FDA Fails to Protect
More than 30 years ago, the FDA first discovered the overuse of antibiotics creates drug-resistant bacteria that can spread to humans and cause hard-to-treat illnesses. So far, the FDA has failed to follow through on its findings. This new ruling will now require the FDA to withdraw its existing approvals for routinely using penicillins and tetracyclines on farm animals unless the farming industry provides evidence that their use does not threaten human health.

Did You Know…?
Almost 80% of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are fed to food animals. In addition to its impact on animal welfare, the misuse of antibiotics also affects our own lives. If we want to keep antibiotics working for us, we must keep industrial farms from abusing them. The ASPCA applauds this recent court decision—not only for human health, but also in hopes that it will help ensure cleaner, more humane living conditions for animals on farms.

For more information on the ASPCA’s efforts to help farmed animals, please visit our Farm Animal Cruelty section.

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