Docket No. FDA-2010-N-0155-0139
While I commend FDA for taking action to increase veterinary oversight when antibiotics are administered to livestock in feed and water, the proposed Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) does not go far enough. FDA can and should use the VFD to preserve the utility of life-saving antibiotics and put public health over the profits of the animal factory industry.
Antibiotic-resistance is a real, growing problem. Infections that were easily treated with antibiotics 50 years ago can now result in serious illness and death. The routine feeding of antibiotics to food animals creates drug-resistant superbugs, which can spread to humans by eating meat, poultry, and eggs, and through environmental exposure.
Scientists agree that industrial food producers must stop routinely using the drugs in order to save our antibiotics. The National Academy of Sciences stated that: “A decrease in antimicrobial use in human medicine alone will have little effect on the current situation. Substantial efforts must be made to decrease inappropriate overuse in animals and agriculture as well.”
FDA must eliminate the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock feed and insure that any antibiotics administered to sick animals are done so under the care and supervision of a veterinarian. FDA should strengthen the VFD by retaining the veterinarian-client-patient relationship definition; requiring two years of data collection; clarifying expiration date requirements to ensure that the VFD is not valid beyond the intended treatment length; and reporting data from the VFDs to the public. Reporting information from VFDs will help determine whether sub-therapeutic antibiotic use is actually declining.
Center for Food Safety
Antibiotic resistance is a real, growing problem. Infections that were easily treated with antibiotics 50 years ago can now result in serious illness and even death. While doctors can certainly...
Antibiotic resistance is a real, growing problem. Infections that were easily treated with antibiotics 50 years ago can now result in serious illness and even death. While doctors can certainly over-prescribe antibiotics, thereal culprit is not the health care system, but our food system.
The overuse of these pharmaceuticals greatly compromises public health, as their consistent use in livestock selects for antibiotic-resistant superbugs that are infecting humans at an alarming rate. In human medicine, antibiotic use is generally confined to treatment of illness. Yet, an estimated 70-80% of antibiotics produced in the United States—more than four times the amount used to treat illness in people—are used in animal factories for animals that aren't even sick. Instead, the feed farmers buy often has antibiotics blended right in, or they simply add antibiotics to the water.
Why would animal factories routinely give animals antibiotics when they aren't sick? Animal factories rely on antibiotics, antimicrobials, and other drugs to accelerate animal growth rates and prevent them from getting sick whilehoused by the thousands in cramped conditions ripe for breeding disease. This routine feeding of antibiotics to food animals creates drug-resistant superbugs, which can spread to humans by eating meat, poultry, and eggs, and through environmental exposure.
Despite the known risks of sub-therapeutic antibiotic use in factory farms, FDA has allowed this practice to continue virtually unabated. Instead of eliminating sub-therapeutic use, the FDA instituted weak "voluntary" measures to curb routine antibiotic usage. While FDA has proposed a new rule that requires veterinarians to order antibiotic drugs--a step in the right direction--the proposal also weakens the meaning of veterinary oversight with several loopholes that will still allow antibiotics to be used widely. Without a strong veterinary feed directive rule, antibiotic resistance will continue to rise.
Tell FDA to close the loopholes and keep antibiotics working!