The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund has published a white paper titled “Ending the Overuse of Antibiotics in Livestock Production: The Case for Reform.” Contending that the use of antibiotics in healthy animals to accelerate their growth or “prevent disease caused by unhealthy and unsanitary conditions” has accelerated the development of antibioticresistant bacteria, the paper calls on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to act immediately to restrict the use of antibiotics in livestock production.

According to the consumer-interest group’s paper, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that some 2 million Americans are sickened each year by drug-resistant bacteria, and of those, 23,000 die. The paper also states that more than “70% of antibiotics in classes used in human medicine are sold for use in food animals.” FDA data reportedly indicate that in 2011, 29.9 million pounds of antibiotics were sold in the United States, but just 7.7 million pounds were sold to treat people who were sick.

Other recommended reforms include adopting a tracking system “to document the sale, use and impacts of antibiotic use in livestock production,” increased drug maker investments into the development of drugs to treat resistant infections, retailer commitments to sell meat “produced on farms that reserve antibiotics for animals that are actually sick,” and U.S. Department of Agriculture funding for “research on practices that reduce the need for antibiotic in food animals.”