Exploring the issues surrounding animal antibiotics in our food system

The Responsible Use of Animal Antibiotics

Animal antibiotics have been used by farmers for decades to make food safer, prevent animal suffering, and lessen the burden on our planet. Today, there is concern about whether the use of antibiotics on the farm is contributing to human antibiotic resistance. This website explores the issues surrounding animal antibiotics, shares scientific studies that shed light on the issue, and invites you to ask questions of a food system expert. Learn More

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Dr. Dorman >


My Family

Antibiotics help to make the food you buy safer by reducing bacteria in the food supply. They help to keep food affordable because healthy animals consume less food and water, which is good for our planet. Despite these benefits, antibiotic resistance is a serious public health concern shared by the animal health community. That’s why animal health companies and farm organizations are working with the Food and Drug Administration and American Veterinary Medical Association to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics in animals that produce food.

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A study of macrolides concludes there is a 1 in 10 million to 1 in 3 billion chance of treatment failure from antibiotic resistance related to the use of common animal antibiotics, depending upon the bacteria. To put that into context, you are far more likely to die from a dog bite or lightning strike than from treatment failure related to the use of antibiotics in animals.


My Wallet

Keeping animals healthy, the goal of antibiotic use, allows farmers to produce food more effectively, which has the added benefit of making food more affordable. Healthy animals consume less food and water, keeping farm costs down, which contributes to affordability at the grocery store. More consumers are able to afford meat when farmers are able to maintain the health of their animals.

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Keeping animals healthy allows farmers to produce food more effectively, making food more affordable, while using fewer resources.


The Animals

When an animal is sick with a bacterial infection, treating it with antibiotics is the ethical thing to do. Veterinarians take an oath to protect animal health, prevent and relieve animal suffering and promote public health, similar to the oath taken by medical doctors to protect human health. Both work to ensure antibiotics are used responsibly to reduce the risk of resistance. Antibiotics are used to treat animals for the same reason they are used to treat people – to treat or prevent diseases that cause pain and suffering.

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Antibiotics make food safer by helping keep animals healthy, which reduces bacteria entering the food supply. Responsible use of animal antibiotics benefits all of us by making food safer and more affordable.


The Planet

Responsible use of antibiotics helps keep animals and the environment healthy. When left untreated, sick animals grow more slowly, requiring more food and water. This means more grain, grass or hay must be grown for feed, requiring more fertilizer, water and acres of land. So, sick animals have a larger environmental impact, while healthy animals use fewer natural resources. Practices that allow farmers or veterinarians to treat sick animals result in the use of fewer natural resources and are good for the environment.

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The responsible use of antibiotics by doctors and patients, as well as veterinarians and farmers, helps reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance. The animal health community recognizes that antibiotics must be used responsibly in food animals to minimize agriculture’s contribution to antibiotic resistance.