antibiotics

File: Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

In the budget President Obama is sending to Congress he’s asking for more than $1 billion to combat antibiotic resistance, and some of that money would focus on animal agriculture.

Antibiotic resistance can make common medications ineffective, meaning sick people don’t get better and doctors have fewer options to treat bacterial infections.  

President Obama on Thursday issued an executive order directing the federal government to step up the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

It’s a fight with enormous consequences, according to Rebecca Horvat, who oversees infectious disease testing at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan. Horvat is well familiar with bacteria that are impervious to front-line antibiotics.

Jeremy Bernfeld / Harvest Public Media

The largest association of U.S. physicians is calling for tighter rules on antibiotic use in livestock.

The American Medical Association (AMA) says there should be an outright federal ban on using antibiotics to plump up farm animals. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration asked pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily phase out the use of antimicrobial drugs that promote growth in livestock.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

When the people from the drug company came out to visit Tyler Karney at Ordway Feedyard on Colorado’s eastern plains, he was a little skeptical.

They said their product, Zilmax, could put another 30 pounds on an animal in the last days before slaughter. Then he started blending it into the feed for the 6,500 head of Holsteins at this huge feedlot.

“We feed it the last 20 days of the feeding period and when you drive by, you can actually see a physical change in the animal,” Karney said. “They’re chest floor’s wider and just, a boxier animal. It’s kinda hard to believe.”

FDA Pushing To Limit Livestock Antibiotics

Dec 12, 2013
Bill Wheelhouse / Harvest Public Media

The FDA wants to phase out antibiotics in meat.

Regulators released a broad plan Wednesday, designed to prevent meat producers from using drugs that are also used to treat sick humans. That means some changes Midwest farmers and ranchers will have to get used to.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said today it is calling on the nation's pork, beef, and poultry producers to reduce their use of antibiotics. But some watchdog groups say this voluntary guidance doesn't go nearly far enough.

The issue has been contentious for decades. Just last month, a federal judge ruled that the FDA had to go ahead with a plan it proposed in 1977 that would ban the use of some antibiotics as a growth promoter in animals.

Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

Even though the use of antibiotics in livestock feed has been linked to an increase in drug-resistant bacteria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently backed away from a 30-year-old proposal that would ban the use of antibiotics tetracycline and penicillin in livestock feed.

Jessica Naudziunas / Harvest Public Media

The Food and Drug Administration is clamping down on the off-label use of certain antibiotics in food-producing animals. 

In an order published today, the FDA said meat producers can no longer use the class known as cephalosporins in ways not approved by the agency. While curbing use won’t change much in the meat industry, the order signals a bigger concern about antibiotics regulation, some farmers say.