Myth: Antibiotics are Primarily Used for Growth Promotion


Based on industry data, only 13%[1] of antibiotics are used for growth promotion and this practice is being phased out. In 2013, FDA requested that the use of antibiotics for growth promotion be halted by 2016. Every company who produces antibiotics for animals has committed to this plan and they will withdraw their products for growth promotion use. Additional guidance requirements also mean that all therapeutic uses of antibiotics to treat, control, or prevent specific diseases will take place under the oversight of licensed veterinarians.[2]

The FDA guidance also requires approval of an antibiotic before it is used in animals in a process similar to the way human medications are approved. If use of an antibiotic in animals poses a risk to humans, FDA will not approve that antibiotic for animal use. The FDA also determines the safe dosage and timing of antibiotic use in animals to guard against excessive antibiotic residues remaining in meat that could pose a risk for human health.

After companies have made these changes to their labels eliminating the use of their products for growth promotion, it will be illegal to use those antibiotics in feed to promote growth. The antibiotics that previously had an over-the-counter approval will also need a veterinary prescription like the newer animal antibiotics to be administered for a particular use.

Veterinarians will take a number of factors into account when prescribing antibiotics for use in animals including the effectiveness of an antibiotic at preventing an infection and how it might impact the health of the animal and herd.

Dig deeper...

Just like people or our pets, livestock and poultry get sick. Not providing antibiotics when needed would harm animal well-being and could cause a more widespread infection in other animals in a home, herd or flock.

Animals tend to live in herds or small groups, share water and feed troughs, and seek close contact with one another by licking, laying on each other and even rubbing snouts and noses. This can spread illnesses rapidly. Sometimes, veterinarians recommend using antibiotics to prevent diseases at times when livestock are particularly at risk, like during weaning from the mother or transportation. Swift, preventive and proactive actions often mean an animal will receive fewer antibiotics than they would have if they had not received a preventive dose.

See Also:
Myth: Antibiotic Use In Livestock Production Is Increasing And This Is A Human Health Risk
Myth: 80% of Antibiotics are Used in Animals
Myth: Antibiotics are Primarily Used for Growth Promotion
Myth: Animal Agriculture is the Biggest Contributor to Antibiotic Resistance
Myth: Antibiotics are Used in Animal Agriculture to Cover Up for Unsanitary Conditions