Good Reasons To Cut Down On Eating Meat

This morning, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the latest report on sales of antibiotics for livestock use, that is, for use in meat and poultry production in 2013. The news follows the trends of the last few years, showing yet another increase in the numbers. Some lowlights:

  • Livestock antibiotic sales have gone up from about 16,115 tons in 2012 to a little over 16,300 tons in 2013, an increase of 1% (see Table 9).
  • Use of antibiotic that are considered important in human medicine has increased even more, from about 9,800 tons to nearly 10,140 tons, an increase of 3% or 3 times the rate of the growth in overall livestock antibiotic use (see Table 10). Approximately 70% of medically important antibiotics sold in the US are sold for livestock use.
  • About 95% of the medically important antibiotics sold are added to the food and water of , up slightly from 94% in 2012 (see Table 4). Since 2009, feed and water use has grown faster than any other kinds of uses, all of which have declined (see Table 11a).

Use of medically important antibiotics to produce meat and poultry is troubling because when the antibiotics are routinely given to herds and flocks of , some bacteria become resistant to the antibiotics. When these “superbugs” multiply and spread, theythreaten people’s health by contributing to the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic-resistant infections can result in longer illnesses, more hospitalizations, the use of antibiotics with greater side-effects, and even death when treatments fail. Growing resistance also puts complicated medical procedures such as heart surgery, organ transplants, and chemotherapy in jeopardy, because they rely on the availability of effective antibiotics.

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