Antimicrobial Resistance: The Big Picture

An Interview With CDC's Steven L. Solomon, MD

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS; Steven L. Solomon, MD


September 16, 2013

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

In This Article

Antibiotics Down on the Farm

Medscape: The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in food-producing animals, and the potential danger to humans, is highlighted in the report. What is being done to prevent antimicrobial resistance in the food supply?

Dr. Solomon: The scientific evidence connecting food to infectious diseases is unequivocal. There is no question that resistance to bacteria in food animals contributes to the pool of resistance and ends up causing infections in humans. Because of the link between antibiotic use in food-producing animals and the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans, we need to minimize inappropriate use of antibiotics in both humans and animals. We agree with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that 2 things must be done: We need to stop the use of antibiotics to promote growth in food-producing animals, and we need to require veterinary oversight for the use of antibiotics in animals.

Right now there are legal indications for the use of antibiotics in animals for growth promotion. When antibiotics are used for such purposes, they are fed to the entire herd in small amounts. This raises the likelihood of resistance. Resistant bacteria can be transmitted to people who work with the animals, those who work in the slaughterhouse, and those who process food. They get into the environment and they end up in humans. All resistance is linked -- this goes back to the big picture. Antibiotic use in any setting promotes the development of resistance.

Veterinary oversight will ensure that antibiotics are used appropriately in animals. We want the herds to be healthy so that the food we get from animals will be safe. There is certainly a place for antibiotics on the farm, but only under veterinary oversight and only when necessary for the health of the animals.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.