Over the years, the Food and Drug Administration and many other health organizations have been questioning what risks are associated with the use of antibiotics in farm animals. In December 2013, the FDA even implemented a voluntary plan for farmers who were interested in phasing out antibiotic use.1 At the time, it was with the hope that this initiative would have a positive domino effect across the industry.
According to The New York Times, the FDA conducted an analysis of 30 different antibiotics that are used in animal feed, only to find unfortunate results.2 Out of those investigated, 18 of the antibiotics were found to put humans at risk of exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. There is a chance that this is what's behind some of the 23,000 deaths due to infections that are caused by such viruses.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is hopeful that these findings will force the FDA to put more strict guidelines in place. The NRDC also points out that the tested antibiotics only make up half of those used in the industry, meaning the the FDA needs to conduct further research.3
1 U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "Phasing out certain antibiotic use in farm animals" December 13, 2013
2 The New York Times, "Antibiotics in animals tied to risk of human infection" January 27, 2014
3 Natural Resources Defense Council, "Playing chicken with antibiotics" January 27, 2014