Recent Articles About Antibiotics

Groups to Foster Farms: Come Clean on Antibiotics

Foster Farms has been in the news lately because the company was linked to a Salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds of people last year.  Last week a plant was closed after USDA found cockroaches and sanitation problems. They’ve been quick to make promises about doing better, but so far we haven’t heard any explicit pledges to prevent the further spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Read more

FDA’s Step to Limit Animal Antibiotics Symbolic–Animal Husbandry Issues Must Still be Addressed

In 1977, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) let everyone know that there was strong evidence that the use of penicillin and tetracycline for anything other than treating disease in livestock, could lead to the development of super bugs strong enough to render the powerful antibiotics useless in people. That warning sparked a ferocious backlash from the powerful animal agriculture industry, which to this day still depends on feeding animals low doses of antibiotics to help grow them faster and compensate for crowded unsanitary living conditions. Read more

FDA Announces Finalization of Voluntary Guidance on Antibiotic Misuse in Livestock Industry

So, FDA has finally come out with its much talked-up voluntary guidance (read, recommendations) for the pharmaceutical and livestock industries on appropriate antibiotic use and avoiding antibiotic resistance. It has been pending in draft form for over a year and a half and has been long-criticized as a hollow gesture to tackle antibiotic resistance.  Despite FDA’s assurances, the reality is that this final guidance: 1) doesn’t do much, 2) pretends to do more, and 3) kicks the can significantly down the road. Here’s why: Read more

This Thanksgiving, Shop Smart: Buy a Turkey Raised Without Antibiotics

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is all the sides.  I’m already looking forward to sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and more.  But one thing Americans aren’t looking forward to this Thanksgiving is getting their turkey with a side of antibiotic resistant bacteria.  Unfortunately, practices in the conventional poultry industry are putting consumers at risk. Read more

What Does a Post-Antibiotic Era Look Like?

Antibiotics are becoming dangerously impotent, resulting in two million infections and 23,000 deaths each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But what happens when we lose these drugs altogether? Reporter Maryn McKenna explores the dramatic implications of that question for the Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN) in its first collaboration with Medium.com in a piece out today called “Imagining the Post-antibiotics Future.” Read more

Problems in Animal Ag Have Gotten Worse Since Pew Report

On April 29, 2008, the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) released the findings of a two-and-a half-year examination of the food animal industry to the nation. Their conclusion: The current system of raising animals posed unacceptable risks to public health and the environment. Five years later, an in-depth analysis by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) determined that instead of getting better, the problem has actually gotten worse since the commission released its seminal report, Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America. Read more

Ask Walmart to Support Healthier Animal Farming

Today, together with Causes.Com, I’m launching a new petition to take on what government officials and medical experts are increasingly calling a growing threat to public health: The overuse of antibiotics on animal farms. The petition is expected to reach as many as a half million Internet viewers this week. Petition signers are asking Walmart’s CEO, Mike Duke, to demand that its meat suppliers only use medically necessary antibiotics when an animal is sick, rather than to prevent sickness because animals are crammed in conditions that breed infection. Read more

Antibiotics Used in Livestock: Making Us Even Sicker Than We Thought

For decades, livestock producers have used low doses of antibiotics to expedite animal growth. The practice, dubbed sub-therapeutic antibiotic therapy (STAT), lowers feed costs while increasing meat production, and nearly 80 percent of the antibiotics used in the United States are for this purpose. Because STAT can encourage the growth of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” it’s banned in many countries, but remains common in the U.S.-despite recent public pleas to stop it by two former FDA commissioners. Although STAT has been in use since the 1950s, how it works has long been a mystery. But evidence is mounting that it might be due to antibiotics killing microorganisms that populate animals’ guts. Read more