Researchers and experts in animal health and human health focused on antibiotics use, safety and education during the “Antibiotic Use in Food Animals: A Dialogue for a Common Purpose” symposium, held October 26 and 27 in Chicago and sponsored by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.

Antibiotic resistance was a central topic of the symposium, with 13 animal and human health experts speaking on the subject. Information shared included:


  • Using an antibiotic — or using more of it — will not necessarily cause resistance to that antibiotic to appear or to increase from current levels. Likewise, ceasing to use an antibiotic — or using less of it — will not necessarily cause resistance to that antibiotic to disappear or decrease from current levels.
  • Concern about resistance is used as ammunition for other agendas, and the arguments assume a vacuum in which no new drugs are developed.
  • There’s much the human health community doesn’t know about why antibiotic resistance occurs. As such, antibiotics should be used appropriately — and as little as possible — not only in animal agriculture but also in the human population.

Consumer education was another central topic, with attendees focusing on four main messages that consumers should be aware of:

  • Farm animals are under the care of licensed veterinarians.
  • Vaccines are used to protect animals from various illnesses.
  • Sick animals are treated with medicines, such as antibiotics, to restore their health, and protections are in place to ensure that their meat and milk is safe for people.
  • If medicine such as an antibiotic is administered to help sick animals, then their meat or dairy products are not allowed to enter the food supply until the medicine has sufficiently cleared the animal’s system.