Minimizing food system contributions

Antibiotics are crucial to effective medicine, helping to fight infections caused by bacteria that the body cannot eliminate.

Bacterial populations, including these species that cause illnesses in humans, are becoming resistant to these antibiotics. The CDC already estimates that over 35,000 people in the United States die from antibiotic resistant infections each year. That number is expected to only grow as resistance in bacteria spreads.

Bacterial populations can often become resistant to antibiotics when they are exposed to them. The most vulnerable bacteria may die, but the most resistant may survive, and reproduce more because their competition has died. Thus, any use of antibiotics has the potential to foster resistance development. The use of these drugs should be reserved for when they are absolutely necessary. Overuse of antibiotics in medicine can lead to resistant bacteria.

In the food system, antibiotics are used on animals and sometimes even on plants and can also foster the development of resistant bacteria. The use of antibiotics may be necessary in some of these situations to fight infections. In others, they may be overused or misused for a variety of reasons including poor management practices and want of increased production.

CSPI works to ensure that antibiotics are truly being reserved for the times that they are necessary to help antibiotics remain effective agains bacteria for as long as possible.

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