Today the Seattle City Council voted to pass Resolution 31514, and support a statewide and national ban on nontherapeutic uses of antibiotics in livestock production.
To compensate for unsanitary conditions, livestock are routinely fed low doses of antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention, referred to as “non-therapeutic” use. The resulting antibiotic resistant bacteria have been known to spread to retail meat, farmers and farmworkers, and rural environments. The CDC reports that 80% of the antibiotics sold in the United States are used in livestock production, with human antibiotic use accounting for only 20% of total antibiotic use. At least two million Americans suffer each year from antibiotic resistant bacterial infections and 23,000 of them die from those infections.
Antibiotic resistant bacteria was the cause of a 2011 outbreak of antibiotic resistant Salmonella in turkey that led to the third largest meat recall on record and sickened 136 people, hospitalized 37, and killed one person. A more recent 2013 outbreak of antibiotic resistant Salmonella in chicken resulted in 416 sick people; 162 who were hospitalized.
Despite acknowledgement of this public health threat, the federal government relies on voluntary compliance to reduce overuse in livestock. The Resolution the Council passed today urges the passage of House Bill 1150, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) in the United States House of Representatives, and of Senate Bill 1256, the Prevention of Antibiotic Resistance Act (PARA) in the United States Senate. City Councils in four other cities, including Pittsburgh, PA; Cleveland, OH; Providence, RI; and Redhook NJ, have passed resolutions like ours. The University of Washington Medical Center’s Food and Nutrition program has recently amended their policy to state that all pork and poultry products served at UWMC will be 100% antibiotic free.