Drug amounts for food animals now reported by FDA: Thanks, it’s about time!

19240The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a report last Thursday (Dec 9, 2010) that 13.1 million kilograms of antimicrobial drugs were sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals in 2009 in the United States (pdf). Why is this important? It represents the first time the FDA has reported the quantity of antimicrobial drugs that are available for use in the production of swine, dairy cow, cattle, and poultry in the US.

The recent FDA value also settles a longstanding dispute between the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and an industry lobbyist group, the Animal Health Institute (AHI). UCS estimated that in 1998, 13.4 million kilograms of antimicrobials were used in food animal production, while for the same year AHI reported that just 8.1 million kilograms were used (Mellon et al. 2001).  The new FDA report shows that UCS was much close to the actual amount than AHI. Read More >

Antibiotic Resistance in Food Animals: FDA Takes Strong Stance, But Public Health May Remain At Risk Until Congress Acts

cattle-grazing-usda-copyLeadership at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made it abundantly clear last week that the low-dose usage of antibiotics in food animals, simply to promote growth or improve feed efficiency, needlessly contributes to the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria and poses a serious threat to public health. Despite the fact that the FDA is taking a hard-line stance on the issue, I find it frustrating to see that the agency appears to be hamstrung from taking the necessary steps to mandate industry end the risky practice. Even more exasperating is that it appears that the FDA may actually relax a current directive that already regulates antibiotic use. However, unlike many critics, I don’t believe that this is an example of the Obama administration buckling under industry pressure. Rather, I view it as a loud and stern call for Congress to take action. Producers concerned more about profit than protecting public health are not going to cut their dependence on non-therapeutic antibiotic use in food animals unless lawmakers pass strict legislation.

Read More >