Factory "Farm" Stories

Consumer Reports Special Report: America's Antibiotic Crisis



But less than 100 years after that breakthrough, antibiotics are losing their lifesaving effectiveness. Their overuse has allowed bacteria to evolve so that they are almost impervious to the drugs. That has led to the rise of “superbugs”—which include methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and bacteria resistant to three or more types of antibiotics. And as the number of superbugs increases, the development of new antibiotics to kill them has lagged. At least 2 million Americans fall victim to antibiotic-resistant infections every year; 23,000 die. “The antibiotics we’ve relied on for decades are becoming less effective—and we risk turning back the clock to a time where simple infections killed people,” says Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over this past year, Consumer Reports has investigated the dangers of antibiotic overuse in hospitals and doctors’ offices. But nowhere are the drugs more inappropriately employed than in the meat and poultry industries. About 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to animals raised for food—including hogs, cattle, chickens, and turkeys. The most recent data from the Food and Drug Administration show that more than 32 million pounds of antibiotics were sold for use in food animals in the U.S. in 2013—up 17 percent from just four years earlier.

Read the Consumer Reports article here.