August 22, 2014 – Antibiotics in Animals


Anchor lead:  The vast majority of antibiotics are used in animal feed and probably shouldn’t be, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Antibiotics can remain in animal feed and under the purview of the FDA, a federal court recently ruled.  This judgment disappoints Michael Klag, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, for a number of reasons.

Klag: Here in Maryland where we have almost a billion chickens you can find that there are bacteria in the soil and the groundwater that are resistant to the antibiotics that are used to feed the chickens.  We are creating a class of superbugs with these antibiotics.  We also don’t know what the health effects are on us of the constant ingestion of low levels of antibiotics.  In animals you can induce obesity doing that, and some people worry whether this is one thing that’s contributing to the epidemic of obesity in the US.  :30

Use of antibiotics in people is far outstripped by their use in food animal production, Klag says, but the number of resistant organisms is growing all the time, including those organisms resistant to our entire range of antibiotics.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.