Raising Resistance: Feeding Antibiotics to Healthy Food Animals Breeds Bacteria Dangerous to Human Health

Fact Sheet
June 25, 2015

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a major public health crisis, leading to infections that are difficult to treat and sometimes impossible to cure, require longer and more expensive hospital stays, and are more likely to be fatal. At the same time, the development of new antibiotics has slowed to a trickle. In some cases, there are now few or no antibiotics that work to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections. Meanwhile, scientific studies have shown that consumers are exposed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria on their meat and other food. While improper use of antibiotics in the health care sector is a problem, organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize that the "overuse and misuse of antibiotics in food animals" is a major source of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Curbing inappropriate use of antibiotics is key to maintaining their effectiveness in humans and slowing the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.