Poll: 9 out of 10 Doctors Concerned About Antibiotics in Livestock | Civil Eats

Poll: 9 out of 10 Doctors Concerned About Antibiotics in Livestock

Doctors–the very people who rely on antibiotics the most to do their jobs–are worried about their efficacy and over-use. And they’re seeing the consequences, right up close and personal.

When the Consumer Reports (CR) National Research Center polled 500 family practice and internal medicine physicians last month, 97 percent said they were concerned about the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant infections, or “superbugs,” and 93 percent drew a direct connection to livestock production, which accounts for 80 percent of antibiotics use here in the U.S.

The results were published today in a report called Prescription For Change [PDF], presented by a group of organizations that includes CR, Health Care Without Harm, USPIRG, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the National Physicians Alliance, among others.

These doctors’ perspectives have been shaped by their direct experiences with patients for whom the antibiotics they prescribe have stopped working. According to the report, a whopping 85 percent of the doctors polled had seen “one or more of their patients had been diagnosed with a presumed or confirmed case of a multi-drug resistant bacterial infection in the past 12 months.” Even more importantly, more than one third of those doctors had seen a patient “either die or suffer significant complications as a result of the illness.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least two million are sickened by drug-resistant bacteria each year and 23,000 die.

newsmatch banner 2022

Meanwhile, the most recent numbers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) show that antibiotic use in the livestock sector–where they have been used not only to prevent illness, but also to speed up the animals’ growth–increased by 16 percent over the period 2009-2012.

In response, the FDA announced late last year that it was implementing a plan to help phase out the use of medically important antibiotics on farms. But, as critics have pointed out, that plan involves voluntary regulations on the part of livestock producers and pharmaceutical company and is therefor mostly symbolic.

We’ll bring the news to you.

Get the weekly Civil Eats newsletter, delivered to your inbox.

In the meantime, doctors are joining a long line of public health experts sounding the alarm on the over use of antibiotics in animals. Whether any real government action will take place is to be seen.

Today’s food system is complex.

Invest in nonprofit journalism that tells the whole story.

Since 2009, the Civil Eats editorial team has published award-winning and groundbreaking news and commentary about the American food system, and worked to make complicated, underreported stories—on climate change, the environment, social justice, animal welfare, policy, health, nutrition, and the farm bill— more accessible to a mainstream audience. Read more >

Like the story?
Join the conversation.

More from

Antibiotics

Featured

Ann Tenakhongva, 62, and her husband, Clark Tenakhongva, 65, sort traditional Hopi Corn at their home on First Mesa on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona on September 28, 2022. The corn comes from the families’ field in the valley between First Mesa and Second Mesa, which Clark had just harvested. The corn is organized on racks to dry out and then stored in cans and bins for years to come. Much of the corn is ground up for food and ceremonial purposes. Corn is an integral part of Hopi culture and spirituality. (Photo by David Wallace)

Climate-Driven Drought Is Stressing the Hopi Tribe’s Foods and Traditions

Most Hopi grow corn with only the precipitation that falls on their fields, but two decades of drought have some of them testing the waters of irrigation and hoping they can preserve other customs with their harvests.

Popular

A Young Oyster Farmer Carrying on the Family Business

Gaby Zlotkowsky on a boat holding a basket of oysters. (Photo credit: Capshore Photography)

Young People Working for Food Justice in North Carolina

Michael

Young Fishermen Are Struggling to Stay Afloat

Lucas Raymond holding a halibut. (Photo courtesy of the New England Young Fishermen's Alliance)

This Mother-Daughter Team Is Sharing Food Traditions from the Ho-Chunk Nation

Elena Terry, (left) and Zoe Fess smile after showcasing Seedy SassSquash, a signature family dish, during the Smithsonian’s