PCRM Highlights Danger of Antibiotics in Animal Agriculture
The vast majority of antibiotics used in the United States are administered without a physician’s prescription. That’s because they aren’t taken by human patients—80 percent of antibiotics are given to pigs, chickens, and other animals on farms. PCRM released a report in September showing that the growing public health threat of antibiotic-resistant E. coli and other pathogens is almost entirely attributable to the widespread use of antimicrobials in animal agriculture.
Animals raised for meat and dairy products are routinely treated with antibiotics to promote growth and reduce the risk of illnesses that would otherwise be common in crowded living conditions. The antimicrobials are often added to the feed or drinking water of dairy cows and egg-laying hens, as well as meat-producing chickens, cows, pigs, turkeys, and even fish. This gives rise to resistant bacteria, which spread to humans and other animals through contact with farm workers and contaminated waste runoff.
Animal products are frequently associated with antimicrobial-resistant foodborne disease outbreaks. In 2011, the Center for Science in the Public Interest published an independent survey of foodborne illness due to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. Dairy products were the most frequently contaminated, followed by ground beef, poultry, pork, fish and shellfish, and eggs.
To read PCRM’s report, visit PCRM.org/AntibioticsReport.