FDA to Regulate Antibiotics in Meat Production

To limit antibiotic resistant diseases, agency pushes to phase out the drug's use in animals.
3:00 | 12/11/13

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Transcript for FDA to Regulate Antibiotics in Meat Production
This is a special. -- from the ABC. Hello I'm tired and as a new -- this ABC news did -- special report a major push today. From the Food and Drug Administration to cut down on the antibiotics used in the US food supply. The government is hoping that by. Respond to traditional antibiotic treatment to joining me now to discuss the FDA's proposal -- doctor Richard -- ABC news chief health and medical editor. Good morning -- investor. And how. How widespread is -- about about expect farmers. Well antibiotics are used widely throughout animal production and that there are several reasons for that they're used to treat disease and no one is arguing with that. But they're also used broadly as what are called growth promoters when you put animals on antibiotics they grow faster and they grew faster. And so William because of that you get larger animals it's cheaper to provide food -- took to markets it's it's a widespread. Problem. OK so haven't. How does this affect going from our food supply to -- super -- that affect people. -- you know outside of eating. -- -- I mean that's that's a good -- good good question and the the connection has been seen for certain organisms but not for others. When you put -- animal on an antibiotic he kills off all the germs that are -- that animal that they can be treated with that antibiotic and leaves behind what are called resistant germs. Then say you buy -- it may be contaminated with Salmonella are camp we'll -- other. Disease causing organisms that are resistant to antibiotics -- if you get sick you can no longer use that antibiotic to treat those infections. There's also concern that some infections that occur in hospitals. Our -- from germs that are resistant because of the wide interest spread use of antibiotics in the environment including in use in in animals. Okay what is the difference between antibiotics and hormones here and and and is this ruling by the FD airs this decision does that affect our use of hormones in -- Now this has nothing to do with hormones hormones -- there -- issues being raised about hormone use in our our food supply in terms of does it affect development -- in humans but this issue -- really focusing on. In -- by Iraqis in our food supply. Does it there's a couple of cautions here that have been raised though they did -- guidelines that would just released by FDA. They just had a conference call this the guidelines are voluntary they're asking those manufacturers those drug manufacturers who make in -- -- for use in animals. To voluntarily removed from the label anything that says that these can be used to promote growth in animals. If that takes place then. People who produce animals will no longer be able to use those drugs to help their animals grow faster and fatter. Now the concern is that it's volunteers some manufactures may decide we're gonna continue to sell these. And -- if so -- not gonna see any change there there are certain people in congress or call calling for legislation that would ban the use of antibiotics to promote growth. -- in in our food supply and that's been been coming up against some strong lobbying efforts but. It'll take some time to see whether these these guidelines that have to have come out. Really change anything or really delayed. They're kind of reforms that need to take place. Okay so it could be years. To see any effect if we do see any widespread effects from this ruling so what can consumers look out for what should they buy if they want to start avoiding acrobatics and their -- now. Well let me right now you can look at labels to see whether whether their food you're buying is in dramatic free. If you look for at organic products they will often say on there that that animal was raised without exposure to take antibiotics. What do they -- the other things about antibiotics that that. When you look at how many animals are raised in tight cramped crowded quarters. It does -- user settings that promote disease and one of the concerns is that in a buy products allow. Animal manufacturers in -- animal producers to it to raise animal in those conditions because the antibiotic will will not gotten infection. If you're not can be using up by Alex broadly you have to provide conditions for animal growth that are that are safer that are more and more ethically acceptable. And that's a change that would lead to more expensive food in our supermarkets and the public's gonna have to decide is it worth paying that extra money to not be exposed to those germs and so that animals were raised have a better life. All right -- -- FDA says 23000 Americans die every year from antibiotic resistant. Infections so that they play in -- the decision making process when you go by me doctor Richard -- thank you so much for joining us. This has been an ABC news digital special report the FDA proposing new restrictions on the use of antibiotics in the US food supply -- Hernandez -- -- --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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