WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Health regulators on Wednesday banned a class of antibiotics for use in animals to prevent the rise of drug-resistant bacteria that also infect humans.
The Food and Drug Administration issued an order to prohibit cephalosporin, a popular class of antibiotics, for use in cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys from April 5, with some exceptions.
Health officials argue that the widespread use of the drug by livestock farmers could lead to resistance when the drug is used to treat people.
Bacteria learn to outsmart antibiotics when repeatedly exposed to the medicines. Humans then pick up drug-resistant bacteria when they eat or handle contaminated meat.
Cephalosporins are commonly used to treat people with pneumonia and skin and soft tissue infections, the FDA said.
"We believe this is an imperative step in preserving the effectiveness of this class of important antimicrobials that takes into account the need to protect the health of both humans and animals," said Michael Taylor, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods.
(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov, additional reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)
(This story corrects the first paragraph to show antibiotics are not used in animal feed, just in animals)