Using antibiotics with livestock is a hot topic today. Antibiotics have been around since the 1920s and much has changed since they were developed. While we use antibiotics to stave off bacteria and fight diseases for both people and animals, there is warranted concern about its use with livestock. Many people are concerned about animals becoming resistant to the antibiotics and the long term effects or the potential of residues in meat, milk, and eggs.
So what exactly are antibiotics used for with cattle?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dictates the approval of and directions for use of antibiotics in livestock. Many producers use antibiotics as part of a cattle management strategy to maintain the health and well-being of the cattle. Cattle may be given antibiotics to assist with pain and distress. They may also be given to help cattle grow faster and gain weight faster. In some cases, cattle that are in danger of becoming sick because of stress or exposure to a new environment may be given antibiotics as a means to prevent sickness or infection.
The FDA keeps a watchful eye on producers who use antibiotics. Those who exceed the FDA approved limits risk heavy fines and even prison, and all violations are published regularly on the Food Safety and Inspection Service website.
column by MIKE MARTIN
BIO: Michael Martin of Martin Law Office in Lakeland specializes in agriculture and environmental legal representation. A native of Polk County, Mike attended college at Sewanee in Tennessee, before obtaining a doctorate in law from the University of Florida and has tried numerous cases nationwide since that time. Mike also serves as the director of the FFA Foundation and is the author of the novel, The Crestfallen Rose.