Alternatives to Common Preventive Uses of Antibiotics for Cattle, Swine, and Chickens

Over the past decades, a growing body of research confirms that the use of antibiotics in food animals is contributing to antibiotic resistance. The more a particular antibiotic is used, the more chances bacteria have to evolve resistance mechanisms, and the less effective that drug becomes for future use for people and animals alike. Use of one antibiotic also can increase the spread of resistance genes to other, unrelated antibiotics. Thus, we must reserve antibiotics for use only when disease is present, and not as a regular preventive drug. In California, the passage of State Bill 27 (SB27) in October of 2015 addressed this issue. This law prohibits the regular use of antibiotics for animals that are not sick or in need of surgery, starting in 2018. This paper was prepared for NRDC by veterinarian Dr. Jardayna Werlin Laurent, and focuses on alternatives to the common routine uses of antibiotics for disease prevention. It was submitted to the California Department of Food and Agriculture to aid in the implementation of SB 27.

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