We need a mandatory ban on sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics for livestock—not weak, voluntary guidance.
The FDA’s Guidance for Industry #213, (http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm378100.htm) asking drug makers to voluntarily change the labels on antibiotics used for livestock, and requiring farmers to get a prescription from veterinarians in order to buy antibiotics for farm animals falls far short of what is needed to protect consumers, the environment and the public health.
The American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are among the over 400 organizations (http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/solutions/strengthen-healthy-farm-policy/pamta-endorsers-list.html) representing health, consumer, agricultural, environmental, humane, and other interests that have supported enactment of legislation to phase out nontherapeutic use in farm animals of medically important antimicrobials.
These organizations recognize the dangers posed by the overuse of antibiotics, such as including penicillin, azithromycin and tetracycline, that are critical to protecting humans from infection. Antibiotic resistance linked to food animal operations is on the rise. Studies suggest that hog farms are a source of a new strain (ST398) of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a disease responsible for more deaths per year in the United States than AIDS.
In 1998, the National Academy of Sciences noted that antibiotic-resistant bacteria generate a minimum of $4,000,000,000 to $5,000,000,000 in costs to United States society and individuals yearly.
The public has waited for more than 36 years for the FDA to take decisive action to control the use of antibiotics on factory farms. This latest guidance will do little or nothing to protect consumers and the environment. Please take stronger, mandatory action to phase out the routine use of sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics, particularly those that are critical to protecting human health.
Organic Consumers Association
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has known for more than 12 years (36 years, by some accounts) that the routine use of antibiotics in livestock is harmful to human health. What has it done to protect you?
According to the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) "Antibiotic Resistance Threat Report," published in September 2013, two million American adults and children become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year. At least 23,000 of them die as a direct result of those infections.
Unless you eat organically raised meats, every piece of meat you eat will give you a small dose of antibiotics. That small dose isn't enough to kill bacteria. And that's the problem. The bacteria that aren't killed, become stronger. So strong, that they no longer respond to higher doses of antibiotics when you need them.
In December, the FDA finally made a move (only after being forced to by the courts) it said is intended to curb the reckless use of antibiotics in livestock. Sadly, it falls far short of what we need.