The information below digs deeper into animal antibiotic use and into concerns about antibiotic resistance, which is a serious public health concern shared by the animal health community. If you have any questions after reading more about these issues, don’t hesitate to ask your food system veterinarian.
Below are links to a glossary of terms and resource library for quick reference. If you’d like to see how antibiotics are used on the farm and learn how meat is kept safe from harmful residues, click here to watch a video series.
The term antibiotic resistance is central to the discussion and critical to understand. Put simply, it refers to bacteria that evolve to the point where they are not easily killed by antibiotics. You may have heard the term antibiotic residue and wondered whether it is the same as resistance. It is not. Antibiotic residue refers to molecules that remain in meat from animals that have been treated with antibiotics. There are multiple safeguards in place to ensure meat is safe, including mandatory antibiotic withdrawal periods in animals and routine testing of meat, milk and eggs by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and food companies.
Antibiotics and their use in both humans and animals is a complex topic. To help reduce confusion and provide clear information, this industry glossary defines a number of terms dealing with the science and use of antibiotics.
There have been a number of academic studies, as well as public and private research, studying the effect of using antibiotics to treat animals. To see these studies, as well as regulatory guidance, government reports, and other resources that examine the use of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance, visit our resources library.