U.S. PIRG statement on “concerning” increase in sale of medically-important antibiotics to produce meat

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Matt Wellington

Former Director, Public Health Campaigns, PIRG


WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new data showing that overall sales of medically-important antibiotics to food-producing animals increased by 9 percent from 2017 through 2018, which marks the first increase in sales since 2015. Sales increased for cattle and swine production, but decreased for chicken, suggesting that chicken producers continue to improve their antibiotics practices. The majority of medically-important antibiotics sold for use in the United States go to food-producing animals. 

In response to the FDA’s report, Matt Wellington, Antibiotics Campaign Director for U.S. PIRG, released the following statement:

“The upward tick in sales is concerning, especially given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now estimates that one person dies every fifteen minutes from drug-resistant infections. 
“The less we use antibiotics, the better our chances of preserving these life-saving medicines for the future. While the chicken industry has made considerable progress in reducing medically-important antibiotic use, the beef and pork industries continue to vastly overuse the drugs. 
“It’s critical that the FDA set a national standard for responsible use of medically-important antibiotics in meat production — including restricting the drugs unless it’s to treat sick animals or to control a verified disease outbreak.”