California Enacts Strictest Animal Antibiotic Law in the U.S.

Monday, October 12, 2015

California just passed a bill to sharply limit the use of antibiotics in farm animals, making it the first state to ban the routine use of the drugs in animal agriculture.

Signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday, the law bans the use of medically important antibiotics to promote growth in cows, chickens, pigs, and other animals raised for profit. Meat producers will only be able to administer the drugs with the approval of a veterinarian when animals are sick, or to prevent infections when there's an "elevated risk." They can't use the drugs "in a regular pattern." The policy is more restrictive than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's national guidelines, which don't restrict use for disease prevention.

Overuse of antibiotics, both in medicine and in animal agriculture, contributes to the rise of drug-resistant superbugs that kill 23,000 Americans each year and sicken 2 million. Brown vetoed a weaker bill last year. The new law is a win for consumer and environmental advocates who have sought tougher rules for years.

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