FDA attempting to regulate antibiotics in animals

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The Food and Drug Administration wants to put a limit on the amount of antibiotics given to farm animals to prevent the spread of mutated forms of food-borne illness among the public.

According to an AP report this week, the agency announced a plan to effectively regulate antibiotics fed to farm animals and livestock that eventually becomes part of the food chain. As the farming industry has left the small family farm behind in favor of larger, industrial farms with thousands of animals where they’re fed large quantities of antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease among the animals.

The increased use of antibiotics affects the meat, eggs, and milk produced by farm animals and has an impact on public health, believed to be responsible for the spread of so-called “super bugs” or mutated strains of common food-borne pathogens that can’t be treated with common antibiotics.

The FDA plans to require a veterinarian to prescribe antibiotics to farmers for use in their livestock and wants to urge “judicious” use of antibiotics in animals. Rather than making antibiotics use routine for farm animals, the FDA wants farmers to adapt those practices to using them when only necessary. Farmers can buy antibiotics over-the-counter for their animals, the report indicates.

Antibiotics are also used to promote more rapid and size growth in their animals so each animal yields more product. This results in bigger chickens and cows producing more milk but numerous studies and the growth of the organic food industry are strong signs consumers are not pleased by the use of antibiotics and other growth hormones in farm animals.

The changes are being hailed as a start for the FDA in its attempt to regulate the use of antibiotics in farm animals. Prior to releasing these proposed rules changes, the FDA held very little power over their use.