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Some Americans are becoming more aware of the issue. Liza Greenfield, 33, said she will only buy organic, antibiotic-free meat at farmers markets because she doesn’t think animals should be given antibiotics for growth.

“A cow is supposed to eat grass,” said Greenfield, an administrator at the New York University. “I want to know it was out on the pasture eating grass.”

As Americans show more interest, so are companies. Some of the largest restaurant and grocery chains including Kroger and Safeway now offer antibiotic-free meat. And last month, executives from companies such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Bon Appetit food services that offer antibiotic-free meat and poultry gathered in Washington to lobby for restrictions on the use of antibiotics in animals.

The FDA last week said it would ask drugmakers to voluntarily stop marketing antibiotics for non-medical uses on their labels with a goal of completely stopping the practice in a few years. Animal drugs can only be legally prescribed for uses listed on the label, so the change is expected to have a major impact on how farmers use them.

Some public safety advocates complained that the FDA, which worked with drugmakers on the proposal, should have mandated the change. But the FDA said a formal ban would have required individual hearings for each drug, which could have taken decades.

“We think the science is very solid in showing that largely indiscriminate use of antibiotics contributes to resistance,” said FDA Deputy Commissioner MichaeI Taylor. “I don’t think there’s really any question about it.”