Farmers worldwide need cut back on their use of antibiotics for livestock to slow the spread of dangerous bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, according to a new editorial in the journal Nature.
"Farmers around the world routinely feed antibiotics to their animals, not only to prevent and treat infections, but also to make their animals grow faster. This leads to drug-resistant bacteria in the animals, and this resistance can spread to the bacteria that infect us," states the editorial, titled "Pig out" "The overuse of antibiotics in farm animals is a global issue. Human propensity for trade and travel ensures that resistant bacteria spread easily around the world, so as long as any one country pumps its pigs and poultry full of the drugs, everyone is at risk."
In the U.S. alone, about 80 percent of all antibiotics sold are used by the meat and poultry industry to make animals grow faster or to prevent disease in crowded and unsanitary conditions. The declining effectiveness of antibiotics has become a public-health crisis, leading doctors and scientists to call for much more careful use of antibiotics so that disease-causing organisms don't become immune to them.
Our recent investigation found that there are lots of 'no antibiotics' choices at the supermarket but that some labeling on the products is hard to decipher.