Instead, the agency has asked the livestock industry to regulate itself, and voluntarily limit the use of antibiotics.
Consumer groups doubt that will happen.
One food policy writer called the reversal "pathetic" and "dismaying."
Food and health experts say using the drugs can lead to so-called 'superbugs' and antibiotic-resistance for people. And they believe we will continue to see a rise in antibiotic resistant infections.
Critics are also upset the FDA's decision was announced during the holiday season, when it may have gone unnoticed.
Livestock producers often use the drugs in healthy animals, to promote growth and preven disease. The FDA itself has long-admitted that the overuse of antibiotics in healthy healthy livestock was unsafe.
The European Union has already banned the use of the antibiotics. Many of America's trading partners are reluctant to buy products raised with antibiotics.
In this country, the Natural Resources Defense Council has sued the FDA to with withdraw its approval of the practice of mixing the drugs with animal feed.