On Thursday, a federal judge ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make steps toward implementing a 35-year-old ban on antibiotics in livestock and poultry feed. In 1977, upon concluding that the routine use of antibiotics in animal feed weakened their effectiveness in humans, the FDA issued an order to ban the nonmedical use of penicillin and tetracycline in feed, unless drug companies could verify their safety. Though opposition from members of Congress and lobbyists caused the rule to remain inactive for more than 30 years, last week’s ruling will force the FDA to begin withdrawing its approval of the antibiotics’ use on farm animals. Drug companies will have a chance to defend the safety of their products at an upcoming public hearing, keeping in line with the conditions of the 1977 rule.
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