“Antibiotic Use in Industrial Food Animal Production.”


Antibiotics —> a landmark medical advance
Plays a key role in minimizing infectious disease fatality

Antibiotic Uses

  • Clinical medicine
  • Animal agriculture
  • Crop production
  • Ethanol production
  • *Contribute to resistance development (Some contribute more than others)

Usage Estimates of 2010
(Millions of pounds per year)
Humans – 7.3
Animals – 28.8 (non-theraputic & therapeutic)

Used in the Production of Food Animals

  • Treatment
  • Control
  • Prevention
  • Production (Growth promotion, Feed conversion)


  • Prevention and growth promotion
  • Lower dose
  • Longer duration
  • Feed and water
  • Limited veterinary oversight

Antibiotic Resistance can develop by…

  • Natural Selection
  • Horizontal Gene Transfer (Bacterial Transformation, Bacterial Transduction, Bacterial Conjugation)
  • Mutagenesis and Resistance (Mutation in bacteria) 
  • Reservoir of Resistance (Bacteria can harbor genes when horizontally shared with other bacteria)
  • Community Dynamics
  • Dose Imprecision (Uneven delivery of antibiotic dose/May increase resistance development)

Exposure, Risk and Relevant Policy

  • Bacteria can transfer from facility to facility
  • Health and economic burdens

The Danish “Experiment”

Denmark passed legislation to restrict use of non-theraputic antimicrobials in swine and poultry production

  • Animal health has improved
  • Antibiotic consumption decreased by 50%

Domestic Policy

Animal Drug User Fee Act (2008)

  • FDA collects and releases aggregated sales data in food animal production

Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act

  • Limits the use of “medically important” antibiotics in food animal production

Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance Act

  • Data collection and dissemination regarding antibiotics use in humans and animals


Lecture Response

The part of the lecture which was most surprising to me was the big difference in antibiotic use between humans and animals each year. In 2010, a report concluded that humans consumed 7.3 millions of tons, whereas animals consumed 28.8 millions of ton of antibiotics. This seemed like a lot more than I would of thought. I suppose there is a bigger animal population than humans, but what is interesting is the antibiotics being used non-theraputically versus therapeutically. The amount of antibiotics used for growth promotion and for other non-theraputic reasons is astounding.


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