Antibiotic Use

America’s farm families have a long-standing commitment to protect the health and safety of our animals, our families, our employees and consumers. Antibiotics are an important tool in ensuring animal health and high standards of animal care. Farmers work closely with veterinarians to use antibiotics responsibly and provide consumers with safe food. The Alliance supports the responsible use of antibiotics by producers in order to maintain the health of their animals and to continue to provide the American consumer with a high-quality source of protein.

Quick Facts about Antibiotics

  • Fact: Animal antibiotics make our food supply safer and people healthier. Antibiotics are a critical tool to prevent, control and treat disease in animals.
  • Fact: For more than 40 years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry. Veterinarians work with farmers to use these products in a manner that provides consumers with the safest food possible.
  • Fact: Because antibiotic resistance is a public health concern, several layers of protection have been put in place to ensure that animal antibiotics do not affect public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FDA, and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), along with the veterinary community, animal health companies and farmers, have an effective process in place to protect human health.
  • Fact: Banning or severely restricting the use of antimicrobials in animals may negatively impact a veterinarian’s ability to protect animal health and prevent suffering from disease, which can lead to poor animal welfare.
  • Fact: Research has shown that as rates of animal illnesses increase, so do rates of human illness.

What is Antibiotic Resistance?

The presence of a residue in meat does not indicate antibacterial resistance. The two are separate issues. If resistance is detected, this means that there are bacteria on the meat that have tested resistant to one or more antibiotics. Resistance is measured and reported through the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). If resistance is detected, that does not mean there are residues; likewise, if a residue is found, that does not mean that there are resistant bacteria to that antibiotic.

Antibiotic use infographic