Restrictions on antibiotic use in animals

Animals can get sick and get bacterial infections just like humans do. When this happens, the infections can usually be treated with antibiotics. Sometimes, farmers and ranchers use antibiotics to prevent bacterial infections when there is a good chance of animals getting sick.

In order to safely use antibiotics on livestock, farmers must allow for a withdrawal period. This is the time span between antibiotic use in and slaughter of an animal mandated by the FDA. This withdrawal period ensures that all antibiotics are out of the animal’s system when it is slaughtered. As a result, the meat will be safe for consumption.

When animals are kept on antibiotics as a preventative measure, they tend to be healthier. As a result, they tend to gain weight well and grow quickly. Because of this, some farmers and ranchers will continuously feed their animals low doses of antibiotics. This has some people concerned about the possibilities of producing antibiotic-resistant infections.

Because of the potential of creating antibiotic-resistant diseases, agricultural use certain antibiotics is restricted. Use of cephalosporins was restricted in early 2012 (Harris, 2012). Cephalosporins are a group of antibiotics that includes Keflex and Cefzil. These medications are commonly used to treat infections like pneumonia and strep throat in humans.

A guidance set out in April 2012 by the FDA limits antibiotic use in food-producing animals. According to the guidance, antibiotics can only be used to treat, control and prevent diseases. They cannot be used as growth-promotants, and a veterinarian must supervise antibiotic use. The FDA guidance is voluntary, but it will affect producers that want to work with the FDA.

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