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Sales for Antibiotics used on Food Animals have increased in the U.S.

Update Date: Dec 11, 2015 09:36 AM EST

Antibiotic use in food animals has not fallen despite fears over the growth of drug-resistance bugs.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the sales of antibiotics approved to treat food animals have increased by 23 percent from 2009 to 2014. In last year alone, sales of antibiotics increased by three percent.

The report did not look into how and why the antibiotics were used in the livestock.

Public health advocates and experts have discouraged the use of antibiotics on livestock, arguing that consumption of antibiotic-fed meats is contributing to the increase of drug-resistant bacteria. These strains, often called superbugs, make infections difficult to treat.

Several fast food chains and restaurants have started to stop using antibiotic-fed meats.

"Dangerous overuse of antibiotics by the agricultural industry has been on the rise at an alarming rate in recent years, putting the effectiveness of our life-saving drugs in jeopardy for people when they get sick," said Avinash Kar, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, reported by FOX News.

Agricultural businesses have repeatedly defended their use of antibiotics, stating that these drugs help keep their cattle healthy.

"Sales does not equal use and use is not the same thing as resistance," said Ron Phillips, spokesman for the Animal Health Institute. "FDA also tracks resistance pathogens in humans, animals and meats and those trends have been largely encouraging."

The Animal Health Institute represents several drug companies, which include Eli Lilly and Merck Animal Health.

In 2013, the FDA published voluntary guidelines for drug makers and agricultural businesses that would help them phase out antibiotics that are only used to speed up growth in livestock.

The FDA stated that antibiotics should still be used to treat illnesses.

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