Use of Antibiotics in Farm Animal on the Rise

A new study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shows that the use of antibiotics in farm animals is higher than ever before. Click here to see the FDA 2011 Report

Reporter Megan Bedard summarizes the FDA data findings on the website.²

The FDA reported that sales of antibiotics to be used in our domestic food animals (pigs, poutry, and cattle) increased nearly 7 percent from in the last year.  That means that those drugs are increasingly in the meat that you buy at the supermarket and eat in restaurants.

These are not drugs injected into chickens, pigs, and cows to cure a disease that they have. They are drugs used to make these animals grow faster and bigger, and to “compensate for unsanitary conditions on overcrowded farms. Farm animals account for approximately 74 percent of antibiotic use in the U.S.“³  This amounts to nearly 75% of all the antibiotics used in the U.S.—much more than what is given to humans.

Because we eat these animals on a daily basis (unless you are vegetarian, of course), we are injesting the antibiotics as well in small amounts.  Now the human bacteria will be exposed to antibiotics over a long period of time.

Over time, these bacteria will develop immunity to the antibiotics, and the human treatments that used to work to kill these bacteria won’t work; that is, they will become ineffective as stronger strains of bacteria develop that are now immune to antibiotics.  Their future generations of bacteria will be antibiotic resistant as well.

Does it seem to you like we are digging ourselves into a deeper and deeper hole?  There are already super strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria out there and people who contract these bacteria will not survive if no known antibiotic works for them.

What Are The Alternatives?

So what can you do to protect yourself?

1)  Buy organic meat. Buy meat only from farms or sources that you know do not use antibiotics. Farmers Markets and Trader Joes and other whole food grocery stores sell such meats. Maybe your uncle is a cattle farmer, but ask before you eat the meat!

2) Become a vegetarian and swear off meat!  That way you won’t be eating any of the antibiotic-laden meat.  Problem solved.

3) Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or collective that can provide antibiotic-free meats.

None of these are easy, because you may not have access to CSAs, or farmers markets, or meat might not be one of the offerings at your local farmer’s market.

Becoming a vegetarian overnight is not realistic for many people, but eating more vegetarian meals each week is realistic.  You will cut down your exposure to these serious problems with the meat supply, you’ll probably feel better, your heart will last longer (with less injestion of animal fat—the “bad fat”), you will reduce the fossil fuels needed for those meals, and you might survive an everyday, common infection because the antibiotics will work on you.

Grains and legumes in the right combinations make the same protein (i.e., bring together the same 8 essential amino acids that make up protein) as meat.  Fish, nuts, and seeds provide healthier protein anyway because the fat they offer are typically “good fats”.

Click here to visit our page on Complete Vegetable Protein for more information.  You will find some combinations of grains, corn, beans, potatoes, etc. that combine to make complete vegetable protein that you can use to get all the protein you need and eliminate meat in any given meal.


1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), “CVM Reports on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Food-Producing Animals for 2010”, FDA Web Site: Animal and Veterinary Section, October 28, 2011.

2. Megan Bedard, “Farm Animal Antibiotics on the Rise: A new report shows domestic food animals are getting increasingly doped up”,Take Part Web Site,, Nov. 4, 2011.

3.  Ibid.

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