Antibiotic use in food animals worldwide, with a focus on Africa: Pluses and minuses

J Glob Antimicrob Resist. 2020 Mar:20:170-177. doi: 10.1016/j.jgar.2019.07.031. Epub 2019 Aug 8.


Antibiotics are frequently used in food animal production in developing countries to promote the well-being and growth of animals. This practice provides some economic benefits to producers and consumers at large. Nevertheless, this practice is also associated with a number of concerns. A major concern has been that repeatedly exposing these animals to small doses of antibiotics contributes significantly to antimicrobial resistance, since a good fraction of the antibiotics used are the same or surrogates of antibiotics used in human therapeutic practices. Studies over decades have shown an explicit relationship between antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance in veterinary science. Many antibiotics can be purchased over the counter in African countries, and antibiotic resistance is an important issue to address in this region. This review examines some of the risks and benefits associated with antibiotic use in food animals. We conclude that the use of antibiotics in food animal production constitutes a major contributing factor to the current antimicrobial resistance crisis and that antibiotics should only be used for the treatment of sick animals based on prior diagnosis of disease.

Keywords: Africa; Antibiotic; Antibiotic resistance; Bacteria; Food animals; Growth promoters.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Animal Feed / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / analysis*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Food Microbiology
  • Humans


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents