Animal Antibiotics Tied to Risk of Human Infection


A federal analysis of 30 antibiotics used in animal feed found that the majority of them were likely to be contributing to the growing problem of bacterial infections that are resistant to treatment in people, according to documents released Monday by a health advocacy group.

Animal Antibiotics No Joke

The analysis, conducted by the Food and Drug Administration and covering the years 2001 to 2010, was detailed in internal records that the nonprofit group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent litigation.

In the documents, some of which were reviewed by The New York Times, scientists from the F.D.A. studied 30 penicillin and tetracycline additives in animal feed. They found that 18 of them posed a high risk of exposing humans to antibiotic-resistant bacteria through food.

Resistant bacteria make it difficult and sometimes impossible to treat infections with ordinary antibiotics. The scientists did not have enough data to judge the other 12 drugs.

At least two million Americans fall sick every year and about 23,000 die from antibiotic-resistant infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. Representatives of the food industry largely blame hospitals and treatments given to people for the rise of deadly superbugs. But many scientists believe that indiscriminate use of animal antibiotics inĀ feed is a major contributor.

To read the rest of the article, please go to the New York Times

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