Antimicrobial use in Chinese swine and broiler poultry production

Vikram Krishnasamy, Joachim Otte, Ellen Silbergeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Background: Antimicrobial use for growth promotion in food animal production is now widespread. A major concern is the rise of antimicrobial resistance and the subsequent impact on human health. The antimicrobials of concern are used in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) which are responsible for almost all meat production including swine and poultry in the US. With global meat consumption rising, the CAFO model has been adopted elsewhere to meet this demand. One such country where this has occurred is China, and evidence suggests 70% of poultry production now occurs outside of traditional small farms. Moreover, China is now the largest aggregate consumer of meat products in the world. With this rapid rise in consumption, the Chinese production model has changed along with the use of antimicrobials in feeds. However, the specific antibiotic use in the Chinese food animal production sector is unclear. Additionally, we are aware of high quantities of antimicrobial use because of reports of high concentrations of antimicrobials in animal waste and surface waters surrounding animal feeding operations. Methods: In this report, we estimate the volume of antibiotics used for swine and poultry production as these are the two meat sources with the highest levels of production and consumption in China. We adopt a model developed by Mellon et al. in the US for estimating drug use in feed for poultry and swine production to estimate overall antimicrobial use as well as antimicrobial use by class. Results: We calculate that 38.5 million kg [84.9 million lbs] were used in 2012 in China's production of swine and poultry. By antibiotic class, the highest weights are tetracyclines in swine and coccidiostats in poultry. Conclusions: The volume of antimicrobial use is alarming. Although there are limitations to these data, we hope our report will stimulate further analysis and a sense of urgency in assessing the consequences of such high levels of utilization in terms of antibiotic resistance in the food supply and the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalAntimicrobial resistance and infection control
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 28 2015


  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Anti-bacterial agents
  • China
  • Food supply
  • Microbial drug resistance
  • Poultry
  • Swine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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