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Animal Factories and Public Health

Center for Food Safety

To sustain themselves, Animal factories demand an extraordinary use of pharmaceuticals.  Animal factories rely on antibiotics, arsenic, hormones, feed additives and vaccines to accelerate animal growth rates and prevent them from getting sick while housed by the thousands in cramped conditions ripe for breeding disease. 

The overuse of these pharmaceuticals greatly compromises public health.  Over 80% of antibiotics used in the U.S. are purchased by the agricultural industry, and their consistent use in livestock selects for antibiotic-resistant superbugs that are infecting humans at an alarming rate.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved animal feed containing cancer-causing arsenical compounds to increase animal weight gain, feed efficiency and muscle pigmentation.  Increased hormone use for the purpose of faster growth and more milk production has been linked to public health problems, including disrupted child development, reproductive complications and cancers. 

The use of pharmaceuticals artificially props up the animal factory system, facilitating the production of cheap meat and dairy that not only fails to deliver nutritional quality, but may, in fact, put public health at serious risk. 

In many cases, information that demonstrates the risks of pharmaceuticals in animal production has existed for years.  However, FDA and the meat production industry balk at control measures designed to protect public health.  Center for Food Safety’s Animal Factories effort targets encouraging agencies and industry to do the following:

  • Take notice of available information;
  • Require greater reporting of pharmaceutical use; and
  • Use the information available to protect public health.