A U.S. federal judge has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to begin proceedings to withdraw approval for the use of common antibiotics in animal feed, citing concerns that overuse is endangering human health by creating antibiotic-resistant superbugs, according to reports.

The FDA began such proceedings in 1977, prompted by concerns of the widespread use of certain antibiotics, such as tetracyclines and penicillin, in livestock feed, but the approval remained in place. "In the intervening years, the scientific evidence of the risks to human health from the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock has grown, and there is no evidence that the FDA has changed its position that such uses are not shown to be safe," said U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz. The FDA must now withdraw approval for non-therapeutic use of antibiotics unless makers of the drugs can produce evidence that their use is safe.


The FDA has said it is studying the judge's opinion and is considering appropriate next steps. It is expected to draft rules within days that ask drug makers to voluntarily end use of antibiotics in animals without the oversight of a veterinarian. The order does not extend to disease prevention uses.