Use of animal antibiotics dropped by a third in 2017, FDA says


Cathy Siegner, FoodDive 

Jan. 3, 2019


Dive Brief:


·         A new report from the Food and Drug Administration found domestic sales and distribution of medically important antimicrobials used in food-producing animals dropped 33% between 2016 and 2017.

·         The agency noted the sales data doesn't necessarily reflect actual antimicrobial use because veterinarians and producers may buy the drugs and not give them to animals, or they may administer the drugs in later years. Still, the reduction indicates "efforts to support antimicrobial stewardship are having a significant impact," the FDA said.

·         Peter G. Lurie, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in a statement the report shows changes in antibiotic regulations have had "striking results," but the group said FDA still needs to publish figures accounting for animal weight.


Dive Insight:


Sales of medically important antimicrobials used in food-producing animals have dropped since the FDA decided to ban the use of antibiotics for growth promotion and restrict over-the-counter use. The ban went into full effect in 2017. According to the findings, the largest decrease in 2017 antimicrobials in terms of weight was in those for chicken — which dropped 47% compared to 2016. The largest overall amount of sales was for cattle and swine.


Sales of antibiotic-free meat have been growing, providing a strong incentive for the industry to reduce usage. It increased nearly 29% each year from 2011 to 2015, compared to about 5% for conventionally raised meat, according to Nielsen. And sales of no-antibiotics-ever meat jumped 45% from 2016 to 2017, compared to 10% for conventional meat.


Meat companies have been paying close attention to these increasing consumer trends and have adjusted their practices in response. Tyson, JBS, Pilgrim’s Pride, Cargill and Perdue Farms have taken major steps to eliminate routine antibiotic use in order to keep their customers, who have more options than ever of shifting to a variety of plant-based protein sources. Even Sanderson Farms, which prided itself on its strident pro-antibiotic stance, announced last month it is phasing out routine use of antibiotics considered medically important for human disease prevention.


The FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine intends...


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