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August 26, 1974

The Use of Antibiotics in Animal Feeds

Author Affiliations

University of Maryland School of Medicine Baltimore Veterans Administration Hospital

JAMA. 1974;229(9):1212. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230470054028

Reviewing the extensive experience with bacteremia caused by enterobacteria at the Boston City Hospital, Finland and Barnes (p 1183) have concluded that a relationship between antibiotic-supplemented animal feeds and human health hazard has not been established. The impetus for this analysis stems from the recently implemented Swann report1 in Great Britain and the recommendations by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Task Force on the Use of Antibiotics in Animal Feeds.2 Both reports have underscored the potential human health hazard resulting from antibiotic-induced bacterial resistance in domestic animals.

Historically, animal feeds supplemented with low levels of antibiotics have been used since 1949. Data have accumulated suggesting growth promotion, increased egg production and hatchability in poultry, and increased meatfeed ratios in swine, cattle, and sheep. As a result, consumption of antibiotics by farm animals rivals in tonnage and cost that by humans. Economic and environmental factors dictate rapid resolution