Friday, October 16, 2015

California Bill Restricts Antibiotics

Written by Stephen Kenney

On Saturday, October 10, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed legislation that will restrict the use of antibiotics in livestock.  The bill will go in effect on January 1, 2018.  The bill’s goal is to curb the use of antibiotics in livestock so that the antibiotics are not consumed by humans.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe that antibiotic resistance is a major problem.  It estimates that 2 million people in this country are infected with drug resistant bacteria each year and that 23,000 die as a direct result.  Governor Brown hearkened to CDC’s findings in his signing statement.  "The science is clear that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock has contributed to the spread of antibiotic resistance and the undermining of life-saving advances in medicine," Governor Brown said.  McDonald’s, Tyson and Foster Farms are among the food retailers that have voluntarily agreed to stop obtaining meat from animals that had received antibiotics

The bill still allows for veterinary use of antibiotics.  The regular use of antibiotics for disease prevention is restricted by the bill and the use of antibiotics to fatten up livestock is prohibited.  The bill also restricts access to antibiotics.  It aims to stop the over-the-counter sale of antibiotics for livestock use as well.  Antibiotics would have to be ordered by a licensed veterinarian to ensure that the drugs will be used for a medical purpose.  California’s Department of Food and Agriculture will be required to monitor antibiotic sales and use.

The California Cattleman’s’ Association has expressed concerns that the legislation will restrict access to antibiotics for ranchers, particularly those in rural regions.  The group ultimately agreed to remain neutral towards the bill after two years of negotiating.  

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