What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance happens when an antibiotic loses its ability to effectively control or kill bacteria. The bacteria become "resistant" and continue to grow because the antibiotic being administered has no ability to kill them. The World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many other public health organizations and experts agree that we may soon be living in a world where antibiotics are no longer a match for drug-resistant bacteria, often called superbugs.

Why should I be concerned about antibiotic use in food animals?

All uses of antibiotics contribute to the antibiotic resistance crisis we face. However, according to the most recent publicly available data, more than 18 million pounds of medically important antibiotics are sold for use in food animal production, compared to about 7 million pounds sold for use in human medicine.

The majority of antibiotics used on industrial farms are to compensate for overcrowding and dirty living conditions, not to treat sick animals. Dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread from farms to people through direct contact with animals, farm runoff into waterways and on contaminated meat and poultry products. While overuse of antibiotics in human medicine is a significant contributing factor, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that at least 20% of serious resistant infections in the U.S. come directly from farms and food.

I keep seeing news and ads that companies are going antibiotic-free.

Why is this campaign necessary?

While there has been significant change in marketplace practices and policies in reducing antibiotic use in the chicken industry, there has been little movement in the turkey, swine and cattle sectors. Changes in the chicken sector alone will not stem the tide of resistance. This campaign urges companies to extend their commitments in the chicken sector to cover all meats in their supply chains. 

It is important to note that "antibiotic-free" does not always mean that meat and poultry is raised without antibiotics or with responsible practices. To be sure, look for any of these labels: USDA Certified Organic, USDA Process Verified Never Ever 3, Global Animal Partnership (GAP), American Grassfed, Certified Humane, and Animal Welfare Approved. Animal products bearing these labels are third-party certified as coming from farms where routine use of antibiotics is prohibited. Labels saying “No Antibiotics Administered” or “No Antibiotics Added” or “Raised Without Antibiotics” also communicate the producer’s commitment to responsible use but are not third party verified.

I thought there was a U.S. law that all meat was antibiotic-free?

There is a U.S. law that there can be no antibiotic residues on meat. The real concern is the presence of bacteria on meat and poultry that are resistant to antibiotics and can make people sick. Meat and poultry may be deemed “antibiotic-free” but still contribute to the health threat of antibiotic resistance.

What can I do?

We have many connected companies that have active campaigns with which you can get involved. Visit our organizational sites to find out how you can get involved!


Link Text