SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — SB 27 is now the law of the land in Calif. California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that restricts the use of antibiotics in animals produced for food. The bill goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. 

Jerry Brown, California governor
California Governor Jerry Brown

The legislation comes in response to growing concerns about antibiotic-resistant infections. The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that antibiotic resistance in foodborne pathogens is an ongoing threat to public health causing an estimated 440,000 illnesses in the United States each year.

The bill bans the use of medically important antimicrobials “as defined, to livestock unless prescribed by a veterinarian pursuant to a veterinarian-client-patient relationship, as specified. The bill would make it unlawful to administer a medically important antimicrobial drug to livestock solely to cause an increased rate of weight gain or improved feed efficiency.” A violation of the law would be a misdemeanor offense.

The legislation also gives the California Department of Food and Agriculture the authority to track the use of medically important antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in addition to patterns of emerging resistance. The agency will be required to submit an annual report summarizing the data for lawmakers.

The move comes as major retailers and food service companies adopt sourcing policies that require meat and poultry suppliers to phase out antibiotics from production or adopt policies for the judicious use of antibiotics in livestock.