Antibiotic resistance refers to bacteria that have evolved to the point that they are not easily killed by antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health concern and the animal health community shares that concern.
Science doesn’t provide a clear answer to that question, but researchers are working to better understand resistance. Although there is scientific acknowledgement that the use of antibiotics in people is the primary driver of human antibiotic resistance, Phibro Animal Health Corporation recognizes that antibiotics must be used responsibly in food animals to minimize agriculture’s contribution to antibiotic resistance. That’s why the animal health community worked with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to change the way antibiotics are used in livestock and poultry. Changes that took effect in January 2017 in the United States limit the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture and increase oversight by veterinarians.
A study of macrolides concludes there is a 1 in 10 million to 1 in 3 billion chance of treatment failure from antibiotic resistance related to the use of common animal antibiotics, depending upon the bacteria. To put that into context, you are far more likely to die from a dog bite or lightning strike than from treatment failure related to the use of antibiotics in animals.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a 2013 study on the most concerning antibiotic resistance threats and none of the most urgent threats have any relation to farm animals. On the broader CDC list, which includes less urgent threats, only two of 18 involve bacteria associated with farm animals.
Antibiotic residue is different from resistance and refers to molecules that remain in meat from animals that have been treated with antibiotics. There are multiple safeguards in place to ensure meat is safe, including mandatory antibiotic withdrawal periods for animals and routine testing of meat by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and food companies. Antibiotic residue is not the same as antibiotic resistance.