California bill would ban antibiotic-fed livestock and poultry product

Apr 25, 2014

California rancher Nathan Carver’s herd of beef cattle feed on hay at his ranch, which has been family owned for five generations, on the outskirts of Delano, in California’s Central Valley, on February 3, 2014.; Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

California Assemblyman Kevin Mullin’s Assembly Bill 1437 is going where the FDA hasn’t — the bill would prohibit the sale of livestock and poultry product that has been administered non-therapeutic antibiotics.

Critics of antibiotic use have spoken out against the FDA’s lax policies on antibiotics in agriculture, saying that it’s inappropriate the 70 percent of antibiotics are fed to livestock and poultry, frequently to healthy animals. 

Stanford University infectious disease specialist Dr. David Relman says that overuse of antibiotics is contributing to the spread of “superbugs,” making people less able to defend themselves against new strains of resistant diseases.

But those opposed to the bill say that rising costs and lack of public demand for antibiotic-free food present barriers to eliminating antibiotics in animal feed. They point to doctors over-prescribing antibiotics as the key problem when it comes to human disease.

Should antibiotic fed livestock and poultry product be banned in California? Will this be effective at a state level, or does the FDA need to intervene? How will consumers be affected?


Avinash Kar, health attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council

Tom Talbot, DVM, veterinarian and past president of the California Cattlemen’s Association

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