Lewis Diuguid

Higher costs for meat could result from FDA change

The Food and Drug Administration has taken a long-overdue step toward phasing out the use of antibiotics in livestock raised for human consumption.

Hog, poultry and cattle producers now regularly feed animals antibiotics to ensure that they grow faster and are healthy. The FDA plans to ask pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily stop labeling antibiotics as acceptable for growth in animals that are essential for treating infections in people, The Associated Press reports.

The action was spurred by the increasing public health problem of antibiotic-resistant diseases in humans. Repeated exposure to antibiotics has led to the drugs losing their effectiveness in combating germs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September reported that more than 23,000 deaths a year result from drug-resistant infections.

But the consequence of reducing or ending antibiotic use in meat production is consumers should brace themselves for higher beef, pork and poultry costs at grocery stores. The change on the farm could reduce the quantity of meat going to market.

A lower supply without a reduced demand will likely drive up prices.