Are Animal Antibiotics Causing the Rise of Superbugs?

A 2011 study by the Food and Drug Administration analyzed 30 antibiotics used in animal feed throughout the country.  The issue was whether the use of antibiotics in animal feed was a factor in the growing problems of bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotic treatment.

The study by the Food and Drug Administration covered years 2001 through 2010.  Details of the study were released by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

According to the study, the Food and Drug Administration studied 30 penicillin and tetracycline additives used in animal feed.  They found that a majority of the additives posed a risk of exposing people to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The problem is that resistant bacteria makes it difficult, if not impossible, to treat these bacterial infections with ordinary antibiotics.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 million people in the United States fall sick every year, and about 23,000 die from antibiotic-resistant infections.  While the feed and food industries blame hospitals for overuse of antibiotics, many experts believe the widespread use of antibiotics in animal feed is, in fact, a major factor.

According to members of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the FDA has repeatedly stated it would begin to regulate or eliminate antibiotics in animal feed.  To date, spokesmen for the Natural Resources Defense Council say that the FDA has failed to act.  Nevertheless, the FDA has again promised that it will soon implement a strategy for eliminating all medically important antibacterial additives in animal feed.

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