Physicians are concerned about the agricultural practice of giving antibiotics to healthy animals for growth promotion and disease prevention, according to a poll conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center poll. The national poll, conducted last month, questioned 500 family practice and internal medicine physicians and found that 93 percent said they are concerned about animal antibiotic use. Eighty-five percent of the doctors said they had treated a patient with a suspected or confirmed case of an antibiotic-resistant infection within the past year. “This poll underscores how important it is to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics,” said Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. “We’re calling on supermarket chains — which have huge leverage with meat producers — to help end the overuse of antibiotics in livestock.” On Thursday, Consumers Union also delivered a letter signed by 2,000 medical professionals to Trader Joe’s headquarters in California asking that the grocery chain only sell meat from animals raised without sub-therapeutic antibiotics.

  • Doc raymond

    Totally misleading report—as intended. Of course the doctors are concerned, as they should be. But that does not prove a link between animal antibiotic use and the antibiotic resistant bacteria they saw in their patients. But the CR hopes you won’t realize that.
    And the use of the word “subtherapeutic” is an intentional misuse. The doses used for control and prevention are lower than the doses used to treat an infection, but they are FDA approved therapeutic doses for this purpose. Shame on FSN for perpetuating this misleading position of those who don’t want us to consume meat from animals.

    • lylad

      “The doses used for control and prevention …” You forget to mention “growth promotion”.
      You also forgot to mention they wouldn’t even need to use antibiotics for prevention if they didn’t shove the cattle so close together in feed lots in unsanitary conditions.

    • CMUIR

      It’s what sells magazines. However, as much as the use of subtherapeutic doses are approved right now, there is evidence, particularly from Denmark where “growth promoting” use of antibiotics has been banned, that shows a reduction in the number of resistant bacteria from slaughter/retail samples of meats, along with an increase in the productivity of animals through improvements in animal husbandry. As there were no searchable recent epidemiological studies correlating reduction in growth promotants with number of resistant infections in humans since the original 1997 ban, I have no idea what this means as far as the human health perspective. Further to that, while WHO advises judicious use of veterinary biologicals, I see no such recommendation in human medicine in the same paper. I know that physicians have become much more stringent in prescribing of antibiotics, from waiting for culture results down to eliminating a prophylactic use following minor surgeries. I wonder what why we have yet to see a reduction in the number of human cases of resistant bacteria?
      The point I am trying to make is that we are all responsible for judicious use of anitbiotics, from hand wash to using up your full round of antibiotics, to ensuring we are not overmedicating our animals needlessly (whether approved or not), when there is data to support better practices. It’s unfortunate (but not surprising) that the media once again has overinflated one statement in order to garner attention and sell paper.

  • Sarena Olsen

    The majority of antibiotic use in agriculture is Ionophores for rumen flora to increase feed efficiency. These antimicrobials have nothing to do with human pathogens and therefore are not an issue for antimicrobial resistance. This needs to be taken into account when evaluating the amount of antimicrobials used in agriculture, which obviously is not. But good job passing blame from the human medical side. And yes, I agree with the comment below, shame on FSN for adding to the fear mongering against agriculture and blame game for this issue.

  • dman

    FSN changed the photo. Thank you.

  • DocB

    Strange, why is it so alarming that physicians are concerned about animal antibiotic use? As physicians I would hope that they have some intellectual curiosity. Although I do not suggest banning the use of antibiotics, I do believe there is enough anecdotal information to suggest more study would be reasonable.
    Among other things, I worked with IPM (integrated pest management) and found that by understanding your target pest, you were able to greatly reduce pesticide use. Understanding how antibiotic use may encourage resistance may suggest ways to use better use them.
    The sky is not always falling. Sometimes we just need to patch the roof.