A Review of the Effectiveness of Current US Policies on Antimicrobial Use in Meat and Poultry Production

David Wallinga, Lidwien A M Smit, Meghan F Davis, Joan A Casey, Keeve E Nachman

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Purpose: Industrial food animal production accounts for most animal-source protein consumed in the USA. These operations rely on an array of external inputs, which can include antimicrobials of medical importance. The use of these drugs in this context has been the subject of public health debate for decades because their widespread use contributes to the selection for and proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria and their genetic determinants. Here, we describe legislative and regulatory efforts, at different levels of governance in the USA, to curtail food animal consumption of medically important antimicrobials. Recent Findings: The features and relative success of the US efforts are examined alongside those of selected member states (Denmark and the Netherlands) of the European Union. Evaluation of efforts at all levels of US governance was complicated by shortcomings in prescribed data collection; nevertheless, available information suggests deficiencies in policy implementation and enforcement compromise the effectiveness of interventions pursued to date. Summary: The political will, robust systems for collecting and integrating data on antimicrobial consumption and use, and cross-sectoral collaboration that have been integral to the success of efforts in Denmark and The Netherlands have been notably absent in the USA, especially at the federal level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-354
Number of pages16
JournalCurrent environmental health reports
Issue number2
Early online date27 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Antimicrobial use, Food animal production
  • Drug resistance, Microbial
  • Livestock
  • One Health
  • Policy


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