Restrictions on antibiotics for livestock

Antibiotics for livestock may lead to treatment-resistant bacterial infection

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has implemented new guidelines for farmers and ranchers using certain antibiotics in cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys that may produce bacterial infections in humans resistant to treatment.

The antibiotics in question are cephalosporins, marketed under name brands like Cefzil and Keflex, according to the NY Times. Cephalosporins are commonly prescribed to treat pneumonia, strep throat, skin and urinary infections and are used by surgeons before operations. In the opinion of many microbiologists, the use of such antibiotics in livestock has led to strains of bacteria resistant to their effects, a development that has dire implications for humans.

This is the latest incremental step the FDA has taken toward weaning the agricultural community off the indiscriminate use of antibiotics. A decade ago, they banned the use of fluoroquinolones, a powerful class of antibiotic that includes the name brand Cipro.