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Public Health Rep. 2012 Jan-Feb;127(1):4-22.

A review of antibiotic use in food animals: perspective, policy, and potential.

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The Ohio State University, College of Nursing, 376 Newton Hall, 1585 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210-1289, USA.


Antibiotic use plays a major role in the emerging public health crisis of antibiotic resistance. Although the majority of antibiotic use occurs in agricultural settings, relatively little attention has been paid to how antibiotic use in farm animals contributes to the overall problem of antibiotic resistance. The aim of this review is to summarize literature on the role of antibiotics in the development of resistance and its risk to human health. We searched multiple databases to identify major lines of argument supporting the role of agricultural antibiotic use in the development of resistance and to summarize existing regulatory and policy documents. Several lines of reasoning support the conclusion that agricultural antibiotics are associated with resistance, yet most public policy is based on expert opinion and consensus. Finally, we propose strategies to address current gaps in knowledge.

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