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Big factory farms pump their animals full of antibiotics. Bacteria become resistant to the drugs, and those same superbugs migrate off the farms to infect people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria kill 23,000 Americans each year. And yet factory farms keep using antibiotics indiscriminately on healthy animals, while government regulators stall on addressing the problem.
Thankfully, some private companies are starting to show leadership: Applegate is producing antibiotic-free meat, Wholefoods is selling only antibiotic-free meat, and Chipotle and now Panera Bread are serving only antibiotic-free meat.
It's important that businesses are taking action, but the Food and Drug Administration needs to act, too. Antibiotics should be given to sick animals only. That's a simple rule the FDA can and should adopt.