The Political Economy of US Antibiotic Use in Animal Feed

  • Walter J. ArmbrusterEmail author
  • Tanya Roberts
Part of the Food Microbiology and Food Safety book series (FMFS)


This chapter examines the evidence for antibiotic resistance in the United States and globally, the public health implications, and the impact of—and related industry and political responses to—antibiotic use in animal feed. In 1969, the Swann Report in the United Kingdom noted a dramatic increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria in food animals receiving low levels of antibiotics in their feed. While the Food and Drug Administration of the United States sought to control antibiotics in animal feed as far back as 1977, only in 2016 were such regulations fully implemented. The farm-level costs of such controls are estimated by the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service to be minimal, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s estimates of the public health costs of antibiotic resistance without implementing controls are $7 billion annually. The complex interactions which exist between economic interests, regulatory policy, and human and animal health are explored in this chapter.


Antimicrobial resistance Antibiotics in animal feed Medically important antibiotics FDA Guidance 209 Veterinary Feed Directive Food labeling 



Animal Drug Availability Act


Animal Health Institute


Agricultural Marketing Service


Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Antibiotic resistance


Antibiotic-resistant determinants


Agricultural and Resource Management Survey


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Consumer Reports


Center for Science in the Public Interest


Economic Research Service, USDA


Food Animal Concerns Trust


United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization


US Food and Drug Administration


Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA


Guidance for Industry


Institute of Medicine


UK Medical Research Council


No Antibiotics Ever


National Animal Health Monitoring System


National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System—Enteric Bacteria


National Agricultural Statistics Service


Natural Resources Defense Council


World Organization for Animal Health




Raised without antibiotics


United Kingdom


United States


Union of Concerned Scientists


United States Department of Agriculture


Veterinarian-client-patient relationship


Veterinary Feed Directive


World Animal Health Information System


World Health Organization



We deeply appreciated the conversations with and review comments from Mary Ahearn in developing and writing this chapter. Any remaining errors, mistakes, or omissions are of course ours.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Farm Foundation (Retired)DarienUSA
  2. 2.Economic Research ServiceUSDA (retired), Center for Foodborne Illness Research and PreventionVashonUSA

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