Sale of antimicrobials for food animals on a rise in US: FDA

USFDA data on the sale and distribution of medically important antimicrobials for food-producing animals shows an increase of 20 per cent from 2009 to 2013

By Mouna Nagaraju
Published: Tuesday 15 April 2014


Sale of medically important antimicrobials that are used in food-producing animals increased by 20 per cent from 2009 to 2013 in the US, says the latest data. The annual report of the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) further suggests that sale and distribution of antimicrobials increased by 17 per cent during the same time. Medically important antimicrobials contributed to over 60 per cent of all antimicrobials sold and distributed for food-producing animals in 2013.

The report which was released on April 10, 2015 also gives us insights into the extent of antimicrobial use in the feed of food-producing animals in the US. Nearly three-fourth of all the medically important antimicrobials that was sold and distributed in the US for food animals in 2013 was routed through feed. 

It also is to be noted that the consumption of antimicrobials via feed is a non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials and aims at increased efficiency of feed or to facilitate increase in weight gain in food-producing animals. Non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials also includes the use of antimicrobials in water for disease prevention and mass disease control.

A global threat
The indiscriminate use of antimicrobials is recognised as one of the contributors to the development of resistant bacteria, thus leading to the problem of antimicrobial resistance which is a growing public health-concern across the world.

News reports suggest that civil organisations have criticised the indiscriminate use of antibiotics andhave called for more action, saying such use of antibiotics aids the development of antibiotic resistance. For example, Avinash Kar of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a non-profit in the US which fights against the overuse of antimicrobials in food-producing animals, said in a report published by Reuters that the federal government needs to do more. He, reportedly, also said that the practice of giving routine doses of antibiotics to animals is akin to giving antibiotics to your kids before they head off to day care when what they really should be doing is washing their hands. 

Amit Khurana, programme manager of the Food Safety Programme at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) says, “The report clearly suggests that high amounts of antibiotics are produced for non-therapeutic use.” He further adds, “India does not have data on antibiotic use. We should also make the reporting of antibiotics produced by companies mandatory. Such data will be very useful in addressing the issue of antimicrobial resistance.”


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