used in meat pose a threat to public health, admits FDA
28 of this year, the FDA issued a draft of new guidelines urging meat producers
to refrain from using antibiotics to promote livestock growth, calling the
practice an "urgent public health issue."
preserve the effectiveness [of antibiotics], we simply must use them as
judiciously as possible," said FDA Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein.
livestock industry regularly gives antibiotics to healthy animals to make
them gain more weight faster, as well as to prevent infection. For more
than 30 years, public health experts have warned that this practice is contributing
to the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria, including strains that can
are seeing the emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogens," Sharfstein
said. "FDA believes overall weight of evidence supports the conclusion
that using medically important antimicrobial drugs for production purposes
is not appropriate."
to preserve the effectiveness of "medically important" antibiotics,
including penicillin, tetracyclines and sulfonamides, the FDA issued new
guidelines reiterating that antibiotics should be given to food animals
only for health-protection purposes, and that veterinarians should oversee
all such drug use, from selection to treatment.
medically important antimicrobial drugs as judiciously as possible is key
to minimizing resistance development and preserving the effectiveness of
these drugs as therapies for humans and animals," said Bernadette Dunham,
director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.
draft guidance will be open for public comment for 60 days before becoming
official agency policy. Although the FDA technically has the authority to
ban any veterinary use of antibiotics that it deems inappropriate, the agency
is taking a more cautious path -- voluntary guidelines -- in the hopes of
avoiding a battle with lawmakers and the food industry. Prior FDA attempts
to regulate agricultural antibiotic use have all been blocked by Congress.
European Union banned growth-promoting uses of antibiotics in livestock
in 2006. "We are not expecting people to change tomorrow," Sharfstein
said. "This is the first step in FDA establishing principles from which
we could move to other steps, such as oversight. This does not tell people
what to do, it establishes principles and tells people how to achieve those
the threat of mandatory regulations is an obvious subtext to the FDA's newest
move. "We have the regulatory mechanisms, and industry knows that,"
FDA's move reflects the growing concern among public health experts about
the growing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as multidrug-resistant
Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
development of resistance to this important class of drugs, and the resulting
loss of their effectiveness as antimicrobial therapies, poses a serious
public health threat," the FDA's draft guidance statement reads.
estimated that 100,000 people die in the United States every year just from
drug-resistant infections acquired inside hospital settings. The overall
number of deaths caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria is likely much
higher. "The writing is on the wall," said infectious disease
specialist Brad Spellberg of the University of California-Los Angeles, author
of Rising Plague.
in an era where antibiotic resistance is out of control, and we're running
out of drugs and new drugs are not being developed," he said. "We
can't continue along the path we're on."
National Pork Producers Council fired back at the FDA, saying the guidelines
would be an unduly heavy burden without good cause.
is no scientific study linking antibiotic food use in food animal production
with antibiotic resistance," the council said.
is] patently untrue," responded Margaret Mellon of the Union of Concerned
Scientists. "There is a mountain of studies linking the use of antibiotics
in animals to the evolution of resistant pathogens that cause human disease."
Because many bacteria
can transfer between human animals, and because many of the same drugs to
treat humans are also used on livestock, health advocates have singled out
agricultural antibiotic use as an area of major concern. According to the
Union for Concerned Scientists, 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the
United States in 2001 went to livestock for growth-promotion purposes, while
another 14 percent went to animals for disease prevention or treatment.
industry trade group, the Animal Health Institute, has disputed this figure,
claiming that only 13 percent of agricultural antibiotics are used for growth
promotion, with much of the remainder used for illness prevention -- a use
that is not addressed by the new guidance. This has raised concerns that
even if the FDA implemented an obligatory ban, the industry could sidestep
it by reclassifying its antibiotic use without changing its practices.
diets and cramped living conditions produce abnormally high infection rates
among factory-farmed animals. To maintain the increased profits associated
with factory farming without bearing the associated health costs, many farmers
simply dose their animals with antibiotics as a preventive tactic.
under the FDA's proposed guidelines, agribusiness could continue to routinely
feed antibiotics to entire flocks or herds to prevent illnesses they may
never encounter," wrote Pew Health Group Managing Director Shelley
Hearne in a letter to the New York Times.
approach to prevention would never be allowed in human medicine, and it
should not be allowed in animals."
and consumer groups expressed disappointment at the FDA's statement and
called for an outright ban on all agricultural antibiotic use except for
the treatment of illness.
was expecting an action plan. I was disappointed that all we have here are
principles," Mellon said. "They're apparently expecting voluntary
action. It's my belief that the industry's not going to act until it has
for this story include: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/ju...
Gutierrez, staff writer http://www.naturalnews.com/030132_antibiotics_meat.html