Since President Trump was inaugurated 13 months ago, no one has been expecting his administration to champion nutritious food, especially in comparison to the Obama administration, which was more active than any other with respect to policies to encourage healthful eating and reduce diet-related disease. (The Obama years were marked by the Let’s Move campaign, the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, mandatory menu-labeling as part of the Affordable Care Act, and a pretty substantial overhaul of the Nutrition Facts label on food packaging.) Read More >
You have probably heard the oft-cited statistic that 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States end up in food-producing animals rather than people. We know this because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires drug manufacturers to report the amount, in kilograms, of antibiotics that are sold, and whether they are intended for use in food animal production or medicine.
What may surprise you is that we have no idea how the 14.8 million kilograms of antibiotics sold for use in food-producing animals are actually used on farms. We do not know Read More >
Good news for school lunches. I’ll start off this week’s update with some good news, coming from Marin County, California. Starting this month, the Sausalito Marin City School District will be serving 100 percent organic, GMO-free meals in two schools in Marin City and Sausalito. These schools serve about 500 students. All meals will be prepared on-site by The Conscious Kitchen, which rethinks school food based on five foundational terms: Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal and Non-GMO. This is the first school district in the nation to deliver food with this model. An important message to Big Ag is that transparency in labeling is essential for long-term monitoring of health and ecosystem effects of GMOs, and until we can have post-release surveillance and epidemiologic studies of possible health effects, the public will be attracted to approaches such as this one in Marin. Read More >
President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law in January 2011, which provided the FDA with additional regulatory tools to protect the nation’s food supply. Fruits and vegetables are some of the foods in need of protection, and the agency published a proposed rule earlier this year that would require farms to adopt new practices for growing produce. CLF appreciates FDA’s significant work in developing the rule, but we also have important concerns with its content.
Problems with the proposed rule
The FSMA is a recognition by Congress that produce can be a major contributor to foodborne illness. Read More >
Early in 2011, President Obama signed a mandate for the FDA to better protect the nation’s food supply. Fruits and vegetables are some of the foods in need of protection—but the agency has yet to publish a regulation for how to make good on that mandate for produce safety. So what are the best ways to protect fruits and vegetables grown on farms? In the attached memorandum to FDA, CLF has outlined some specific steps for controlling threats to produce from animal waste, which would be a step forward in improving food safety. We’re hoping that the agency will listen. Read More >
Yesterday, a federal magistrate ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to move ahead with a decades-old effort to withdraw approvals for several uses of antibiotics considered “critically important” to human health by the World Health Organization. This is a solid win for public health advocates and comes as FDA has proven unwilling to take seriously the threat of antibiotic resistance.
In 1977, FDA proposed withdrawing approvals for the use of penicillin antibiotics for growth promotion and the use of several tetracycline antibiotics in animal feed. Research showed then—more than three decades ago—that these uses were likely to select for antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can infect humans. Unfortunately, lobbyists for the pharmaceutical and animal agricultural industries persuaded Congress to delay the restrictions pending additional research. FDA did more research but took no further action for the next 34 years. Read More >
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a public meeting (video on YouTube) this past Monday at its Rockville campus to discuss reauthorization of the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA). The current version of ADUFA includes an important provision that requires drug sponsors to report sales of antimicrobial drugs intended for use in food animals to FDA. The agency compiles these sales data and releases a limited summary to the public each year. The 2009 summary report of ADUFA data allowed CLF researchers to calculate the quantity of antimicrobial drugs sold domestically for use in food animals as a percentage of the total quantity of antimicrobial drugs distributed in the U.S. While useful, these public summaries of ADUFA data are very short, comprising just a few pages that provide the quantities of certain antimicrobial drug classes sold in the previous calendar year (see the reports for 2009 and 2010). The summaries do not currently provide many data that non-governmental public health scientists, state and local public health officials, and veterinarians need to better understand patterns in antimicrobial use and resistance. Read More >
When to be grateful for an oligarchy—Or, why the Ag Committee chairs writing the Farm Bill now without a normal democratic process is likely better for public health
Rumor has it the next Farm Bill (minus a few titles) will be completed by the Ag Committee Chairs and handed to the “Super Committee” as early as today. The blogosphere has been atwitter with concern over this undemocratic process and there is a bipartisan effort in Congress to demand the Farm Bill be written through the more usual process—i.e. hearings on Capitol Hill and in the field, numerous briefings by interests groups, many meetings with advocates and Hill staff, etc., all taking place over months and months with the resulting bill being a true representation of the full populace’s input. Read More >
Last Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted data on antimicrobial drug sales collected under the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA). ADUFA requires drug companies to report information on sales of antimicrobial drugs intended for use in animals, including food animals. These data provide the most reliable information we have on the use of antimicrobials in animal agriculture. CLF’s Ralph Loglisci and David Love, PhD, used 2009 ADUFA data to calculate the quantity of antimicrobial drugs used in food animal production in that year as a percentage of the total amount of antimicrobial drugs used in the U.S. over the same period—the number, they determined, was almost 80 percent!
The data that FDA posted on its website (October 28) was a PDF that contained sales data for 2010. These data showed a significant increase in antimicrobial drug sales—almost 7 percent. But a funny thing must have happened over the weekend. Read More >
An article just out in Clinical Microbiology Reviews should put to rest the hotly contested debate about antimicrobial misuse in industrial food animal production (IFAP). The review article, “Food Animals and Antimicrobials: Impacts on Human Health,” written by Bonnie Marshall and Stuart Levy of the Tufts University School of Medicine, provides one of the most comprehensive summaries to-date of the evidence linking antimicrobial misuse in IFAP to increased incidence of antimicrobial-resistant infections in humans, and it should silence accusations made by elected officials who contend that there is insufficient evidence to support restrictions on antimicrobial use in agriculture.
These accusations have grown louder in recent months. In June of this year, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) attached an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have prohibited the Food and Drug Administration from spending money to restrict the use of antimicrobials in the absence of “hard science.” The “hard science amendment,” poorly written and clumsily introduced, was stripped from the legislation before it passed the House. But the arguments presented by Rehberg and other members nevertheless reveal a strident—and unwarranted—skepticism of existing scientific knowledge about antimicrobial resistance. Read More >