Thursday, October 08, 2015

California poised to be 1st state to outlaw human antibiotics in livestock

This has been the year of antibiotics awareness in the food industry. Giant food corporations like McDonald’s, Tyson, Foster Farms and Costco all announced plans to phase out meat raised with antibiotics. But these efforts pale in comparison to pending California legislation that aims to strictly limit antibiotic use in agriculture and, according to public health experts, could reduce the number of deaths and illnesses caused by drug-resistant bacteria. With the passage of SB27, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign by Sunday, California would be the first state in the nation to outlaw the routine use of human antibiotics in livestock. Supporters say it could have a wide-ranging influence. “California is a big agricultural state, and it often is a bellwether for the nation. We often see the FDA following suit or other states following suit,” said Elisa Odabashian of Consumers Union, a supporter of the bill, speaking of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Sales of medically important antibiotics to livestock producers went up 20 percent from 2009 to 2013, according to the FDA, just as Americans have become increasingly concerned by their use. According to research conducted for the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, 48 percent of consumers are “uncomfortable” with antibiotic use in animal production, and 53 percent of consumers frequently wonder if the food they buy is safe. Currently, livestock producers across the country can purchase over-the-counter antibiotics in the form of feed, injections and pills. In what’s called subtherapeutic antibiotic use, low daily or routine doses of antibiotics can be used to promote growth, which reduces feed costs. Antibiotics can also be routinely added to feed or water to help prevent disease or to directly treat an infection...more

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