Does my food contain antibiotics?

Does my food contain antibiotics?

Crystal Zabka-Belsky, MS, RDN, CSSD, LMNT, LDN
6 minute read

Does my food contain antibiotics? 

In order to understand the application of this concept, it is important to discuss why they are used in animal-based food sources like meat, dairy and eggs in the first place. Antibiotics for animals are generally used in two ways. It began with the use of antibiotics to treat an active bacterial infection present in an individual animal or group of animals involved in food production. Over time, the use of antibiotics grew to include the incorporation of antibiotics proactively to prevent infections in animals via addition to their feed ( This evolution of use has resulted in controversy, as it has led to the development of several health-related concerns. The potential for antibiotic residue in foods produced from antibiotic-treated animals is dependent upon the geographical location and type of food being produced from these animals. Interestingly, something that many people don’t realize is that antibiotics can also be found in fruits, vegetables and grains secondary to water and soil being contaminated. One of the greatest concerns with the presence of antibiotic residue is that it will create antibiotic resistance in the humans who consume foods. This could lead to a reduced effectiveness of medical treatments when humans need to treat bacterial infections due to antibiotic resistance, as well as a greater risk for the development of diseases that are antibiotic-resistant, often referred to as “super bugs.”

Are there regulations on antibiotics in food? 

According to the World Health Organization, many countries have already taken action to reduce and minimize the use of antibiotics in foods production (Stop using antibiotics in healthy animals to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance ( Regulations related to antibiotic use are constantly evolving, with study outcomes consistently demonstrating that minimizing use directly minimizes risk to the public. Research is also underway to take a closer look at the efficacy of probiotics and herbal remedies as an alternative strategy for managing the health of animals raised for food production (The public health issue of antibiotic residues in food and feed: Causes, consequences, and potential solutions - PMC ( A benefit of all the restrictions now being put on the use of antibiotics is that it has forced the search for natural and safe ways to protect animals during food production and humans who will consume the resulting food products. Research outcomes shown that the use of probiotics based on lactic acid bacteria have demonstrated a positive effect on the growth and use of feed by broilers, on the stabilization of the intestinal microbiota of chickens and pigs, and in the prevention of mastitis in dairy cows. These outcomes are very promising a strategy to reduce the direct presence and residual presence of antibiotics in food produced. The use of both probiotics and postbiotics has also been shown to reduce the occurrence of pathogens in large-scale farms (Probiotics and Postbiotics as Substitutes of Antibiotics in Farm Animals: A Review - PMC ( This developing science is expected to produce more and more protection of the public as food production strategies change.

Are there antibiotics in the food we’re currently consuming?

According to the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, a five-year action plan was developed with intention to support antimicrobial stewardship in veterinary settings (FDA-TRACK: Progress on FDA’s Support of Antimicrobial Stewardship in Veterinary Settings | FDA). The plan, which spans 2019 to 2023, aims to limit or reverse resistance arising from the use of antibiotics in animals while simultaneously continuing to ensure the public’s availability of safe and effective antibiotics for use in animals and humans for treat active bacterial infections. Now, at the tail end of this action plan, we have seen significant improvements and adaptations in food production that continue to push for safer food production, and as a result, a greater confidence in safer food consumption. 

What antibiotics are contained in food?

As quoted by the US Food and Drug Administration related to accomplishments throughout this action plan, “Implementation of Guidance for Industry (GFI) #213, New Animal Drugs and New Animal Drug Combination Products Administered in or on Medicated Feed or Drinking Water of Food-Producing Animals, brought all 292 approved applications for medically important antimicrobials intended for use in the feed and drinking water of food-producing animals under veterinary oversight or voluntarily withdrew their approvals. Based on the FDA 2021 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals, this represents approximately 97%, by weight, of all medically important antimicrobials sold/distributed for use in food-producing animals in the United States. The remaining 3%, by weight, of medically important antimicrobials includes products approved for routes of administration other than feed or drinking water.”

What’s the outlook for antibiotics in food?

What does this mean? It means that the use of antibiotics has dramatically changed to include oversight by a veterinarian, creating increased accountability for safety and consistency with USDA and FDA regulations. What happens next? There will be a continued focus on transitioning from the use of over-the-counter medications to veterinarian oversight across the board, as well as increased attention to the duration of use and associated outcome data. There will also be an increased focus on monitoring, inspections and the development of alternative treatment methods such as probiotics, postbiotics and herbal remedies to continue to reduce the presence of antibiotics in food production.

Summary of antibiotics in food production

How does this relate to the food provided to you by Clean Eatz cafes and Clean Eatz Kitchen? Our brand prides itself on the mission to be more than a restaurant that offers healthy food. We are heart-driven to change livez through clean, balanced food, thought-provoking education and motivational support that inspires results. We know personal wellness is not one-size-fits-all, so we craft nutritional products and fitness opportunities that meet the needs of every type of lifestyle. We are committed to choosing the cleanest ingredients based on USDA guidelines and FDA regulations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our customers. 

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