According to an article published online on May 25th in the Wall Street Journal, several environmental and health advocacy groups are suing the Food and Drug Administration for their failure to ban the widespread use of penicillin and tetracycline in animal livestock food and water.  “The FDA reported last year that livestock grown in the U.S. consumed about 28.6 million pounds of antibiotics,” reports the WSJ.  The groups filing the lawsuit add that “approximately 80% of all antibiotics used in the United States today are used in livestock.”

The two antibiotics are not administered to just sick animals – they are constantly given to healthy livestock in their food and water to promote growth and prevent illness.  This poses a problem, however – bacteria are becoming resistant to these antibiotics.  When humans are exposed to these types of bacteria, the antibiotics administered to sick patients to treat their illness are no longer as effective.

“The FDA said in a document released last year that it did propose in 1977 to ban the two antibiotics in feed because of their importance in human medicine, but didn’t follow through because of criticism that the agency didn’t have enough evidence “to show that drug-resistant bacteria of animal origin were commonly transmitted to humans and caused and caused serious illness.””

I think it’s the FDA’s responsibility to put human health as the priority here – not the livestock’s health.