Update (April 11): The FDA announced new plans to limit the use of antibiotics in farm animals.

Three decades ago, the FDA determined that feeding antibiotics to healthy farm animals could be dangerous to human health and announced its intention to ban some drugs. But for years, calls for more research and pressure from an industry concerned with rising costs slowed any action. In response to a surge of scientific evidence linking the overuse of antibiotics in livestock to the spread of deadly drug-resistance in humans, a U.S. district court judge recently ordered the agency to take steps to restrict antibiotic-laced feed. Here we trace the history of the FDA's inaction on animal antibiotics.

U.S. Meat and Poultry Production

Sources: USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Economic Research Service Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook Tables

Image Sources: USDA NRCS, Flickr