Antibiotics Use With Livestock Restricted By New California Law


California is the first state to enact a law to restrict the routine use of antibiotics with farm animals.
The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. This is great news for consumers and environmentalists.
California ranks third in value in the US for meat, milk, eggs and other livestock products. Hopefully, other states will quickly follow the lead of California.

The law is intended to:

  • prohibit the use of antibiotics to promote growth of animals
  • restrict the regular use of antibiotics for disease prevention
  • stop over-the-counter sale of antibiotics for livestock use
  • require antibiotics use to be ordered by a licensed veterinarian
  • require California’s Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)to monitor antibiotic sales and use
  • require the CDFA to collect information on antibiotic use in livestock production
  • require the CDFA to develop best practices
  • enforcement and punishment provisions

Bloomberg reports that this new law is more restrictive than current FDA national guidelines.

The California poultry and beef associations stayed neutral as the bill made its way into law. Only 7 negative votes were cast out of a total of 108.

The Problem With Antibiotics

Low-dose prophylactic use of antibiotics with farm animals is believed to be a leading promoter of drug-resistant bacteria. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports epoerts that annually 2 million people in the US become sick and 23,000 people die from antibiotic-resistant infections. Eighty (80) per cent of all antibiotic sales are for animal usage. There is also growing data that continued overuse of antibiotics will lead to superbugs and routinely giving to farm animals contributes to this overuse.

Read more about world wide drug-resistant bacteria

History of Antibiotic Use with Farm Animals


The use of antibiotics in farming began in the 1940’s to fight against the spread of disease. A side effect noticed by producers was that cows given antibiotics grew faster on the same amount of feed. As a result antibiotics began to routinely be fed to cows even if they were not ill.

The practice spread to poultry and pork production. This contributed to the increased use of huge feedlots, hog and poultry confinement operations. Less feed, larger herds means less cost per animal and higher profit.

Read about which companies use humanely raised meat

Big Food And Antibiotics

Consumer demand is driving the current trend with Big Food to support reduced use of antibiotics. More and more companies are announcing support for lower antibiotic use.

A few companies jumping on the bandwagon are McDonald’s, Costco, Chick-fil-a, Tyson, Walmart, Foster Farms and Purdue.

Whole Foods has adopted an animal welfare policy in association with the Global Animal Partnership (GAP). Whole Foods requires fresh beef, pork, chicken and turkey producers to have their animal welfare practices certified to GAP’s
5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating. This rating system was implemented in 2011 in the US and Canada.

Antibiotics and Fast Food

Only Chipotle and Panera were rated an A for their antibiotics practices of the 29 fast food restaurants rated. There was one B and two C’s and 24 F ratings.

You can take a look here at the complete list. here.

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