FDA to study antibiotic use in livestock

FDA to study antibiotic use in livestock

AMARILLO, Texas - The debate over the use of antibiotics with livestock heats up as the Food and Drug Administration announces its latest plan to force ranchers to stop using the drugs.

Doctors argue antibiotics in livestock pose a serious risk to our health and could even lead to death.

"The indiscriminate use of antibiotics in animal feed can lead to the growth and spread of drug-resistant bacteria capable of infecting people," the Natural Resource Defense Council said in a statement.

Local ranchers disagree.

"I am not aware of any real concerns in the market right now," Rusty Baker with Ranchers Supply said. "Most of the hazardous drugs have been pulled back and require a veterinary prescription."

The council recently filed a suit arguing the FDA had allowed livestock producers to use the antibiotics penicillin and tetracycline in feed for more than 3 decades for purposes other than treating illnesses.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz said the FDA must now issue notices to drug manufacturer's recalling the antibiotics for use with animals unless they can prove they're safe.

Ranchers say banning the drugs would only make matters worse.

"I think you'll see an immediate effect on any of the red meats you get at the grocery store," he said.

If the antibiotics are deemed safe and effective, the FDA cannot withdraw them from use.

If proven harmful, a withdrawal order will be issued.

It's estimated 80 percent of antibiotics used in the U.S. is used in livestock.

Current tests are already underway.