SACRAMENTO – California Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to announce his decision on legislation that would set some of the strict limits on use of antibiotics in animals raised for food. 

California Gov. Jerry Brown
California Gov. Jerry Brown

SB 27 includes tougher restrictions on the use of medically important antibiotics. For example, the bill would make it unlawful to administer a medically important antimicrobial drug to livestock solely for growth promotion or to improve feed efficiency. The bill also requires the California Department of Food and Agriculture to track the use of medically important antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in addition to patterns of emerging resistance.

“SB 27 instantly puts California at the forefront of US efforts to end livestock misuse of antibiotics,” Avinash Kar, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “It is a game changer: by reining in the misuse of these miracle drugs, it helps ensure that life-saving antibiotics will be effective when we need them most.”

In a statement, state Sen. Jerry Hill, author of SB 27, said 2015 has been “the year of antibiotics awareness in the food industry.” He referred to announcements made by major food companies — McDonald’s Corp., Tyson Foods, Foster Farms and others — to implement antibiotic-free production practices. 

California State Sen. Jerry Hill
State Sen. Jerry Hill

“But these efforts pale in comparison to pending California legislation that aims to strictly limit antibiotic use in agriculture and, according to public health experts, could reduce the number of deaths and illnesses caused by drug-resistant bacteria,” Hill said. “With the passage of SB27, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign by Sunday, California would be the first state in the nation to outlaw the routine use of human antibiotics in livestock.”

Brown vetoed similar legislation in 2014 because of similarities to Food and Drug Administration guidelines issued in 2013. He said “More needs to be done to understand and reduce our reliance on antibiotics.”