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Consumers Union Urges Major Reduction Of Antibiotics In Food Animal Production To Protect Public Health

Consumer Group Highlights The Overuse of Drugs In Food Animals During CDC's "Get Smart About Antibiotics Week"

YONKERS, N.Y., Nov. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, today called for a major reduction in the use of antibiotics in food animal production because their overuse promotes the spread of drug-resistant superbugs and makes antibiotics less effective for people.

Consumers Union is calling attention to the overuse of antibiotics on farms during the Center For Disease Control and Prevention's "Get Smart About Antibiotics Week" ( November 12-18), which aims to raise awareness about how growing antibiotic resistance is one of the world's most pressing public health threats.  The CDC is emphasizing the need for doctors and patients to work together to improve antibiotic use in order to preserve these critical medications for the future.    

"Doctors and patients need to be much more careful about how they use antibiotics if we're going to preserve their power," said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union.  "But we also need to get smart about the overuse of antibiotics in food animals.  It's time to stop the daily feeding of antibiotics to healthy food animals which makes these life-saving medications less effective for people."

In 2010, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Director of the CDC, noted that "there is strong scientific evidence of a link between antibiotic use in food animals and antibiotic resistance in humans."  Numerous health organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, Infectious Disease Society of America, and the World Health Organization, agree and have called for significant reductions in the use of antibiotics for animal food production.

Some 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on food animals, mostly to make them grow faster or prevent disease in crowded and unsanitary conditions.  As a result of large scale use of antibiotics in livestock production, most of the bugs that are vulnerable to the antibiotics are eventually killed off, leaving behind superbugs that are immune to one or more of the drugs.  These superbugs spread on the farm and beyond, contributing to antibiotic resistance in hospitals and our communities.

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