Healthy Holistic Living

80% of US Antibiotics are Used for Livestock


Do you know who the top purchaser of antibiotics in the US is? And why it matters?

“The FDA estimates that 80% of the antimicrobial drugs sold in the U.S. every year now go to the meat industry.”

Livestock like cattle and chickens are treated with an increasing number of antibiotics, which now amounts to four fifths of all the antibiotics consumed in the United States.

The Food and Drug Administration has not issued any regulations on the amount of antibiotics that farmers can give to their livestock.


The number of antibiotics that are used by the livestock industry has consistently gone up each year since 2003, which in turn appears to have led to an increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria found in meat samples.

The American Meat Institute said that while total meat and poultry production increased by point 2 percent between 2010 and 2011, the amount of antibiotics being used went up by 2 percent.

This increase in antibiotic usage has led to some shocking statistics on samples of retail meat taken by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System.

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They found that 44 point 9 percent of chicken samples, and over half of the ground turkey samples had salmonella bacteria that are resistant to 3 or more different classes of antibiotic drugs.

The use of antibiotic drugs is banned from livestock farms in the European Union.


Researchers from New York University have found that the use of antibiotics on livestock may contribute to an increased rate of obesity in humans.

Link between rising rates of obesity and modern farming methods


Researchers found evidence that low exposure to the drugs upsets the delicate balance of gut bacteria which in turn alters metabolism.

‘Indiscriminate use of antibiotics for livestock (often used to fatten animals), not only promotes the spread of antibiotic resistance, but can get in our food chain and affect the homeostasis of our gut microflora.’

Dr Cormac Gahan, from University College Cork in the Irish Republic, said: ‘These studies support an emerging body of evidence linking gut bacteria with the development of obesity.


‘Other research has identified specific subgroups of gut bacteria that play a role in energy extraction from the diet and influence the production of hormones in the host.

‘Disrupting this finely balanced ecosystem clearly has consequences for host metabolism and weight gain.’

Well that explains a lot. So, what’s the solution?

From my perspective it includes ending factory farming as we know it but given the current climate I am not sure that is a priority for the corporations. It is going to take a concerted grass roots effort to make a change let’s hope you are on board!


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Michelle Toole
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Michelle Toole

Michelle Toole is the founder and head editor of Healthy Holistic Living. Learn all about her life's inspiration and journey to health and wellness.
Michelle Toole
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