Antibiotic use in poultry production is more common than previously thought

Photo credit: Scott Woods-Fehr Photo credit: Scott Woods-Fehr

A special report published last week by Reuters after a review of more than 300 internal documents found that the practice of treating chickens with low doses of antibiotics as part of their daily feed is much more common than regulators had previously thought. The report found that large poultry producers, including Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue Farms, and George’s and Koch Foods, medicate their chickens on a daily basis with a suite of antibiotics, some of which are also used commonly in humans. Exposing pathogens to low doses of antibiotics for extended periods of time can lead to the formation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria—a problem the World Health Organization says is “so serious it threatens the achievement of modern medicine.” In light of this newly uncovered evidence, pressure is increasing on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to increase regulation regarding antibiotic use in food production.