25 pharmaceutical companies will phase out animal antibiotics

BY Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press  March 26, 2014 at 4:25 PM EST

Antibiotics are often added to livestock feed and drinking water to promote rapid weight gain. Photo by Flickr user Damian Gadal

Antibiotics are often added to livestock feed and drinking water to promote rapid weight gain.
Photo by Flickr user Damian Gadal

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration says 25 pharmaceutical companies are voluntarily phasing out the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in animals processed for meat.

Citing a potential threat to public health, the agency in December asked 26 companies to voluntarily stop labeling drugs important for treating human infection as acceptable for use in animal production. The FDA did not name the one company that has not agreed to withdraw or revise its drugs.

The companies will either withdraw the drugs from animal use completely or revise them so they would only be able to be used with a veterinarian’s prescription.

Many cattle, hog and poultry producers give their animals antibiotics regularly to ensure that they are healthy and to make the animals grow faster.

In October, Frontline explored the possible end of the age of antibiotics, due to the growing threat of drug-resistant bacteria.