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Consumers Union on FDA Guidance for Antibiotics in Animal Feed

Expresses disappointment at new guidelines that are voluntary for the meat industry

News Release

Consumers Union

Policy and Advocacy Division of Consumer Reports

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Consumers Union on FDA Guidance for Antibiotics in Animal Feed

WASHINGTON — Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, today commended the FDA for moving forward on the critical issue of reducing antibiotics in animal feed, but said it was disappointed the plan would only provide guidance and recommendations on such use.

Jean Halloran, the director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union, said, “We’re facing a major crisis in public health due to antibiotics becoming ineffective in fighting disease, because they have been overused.   More than 18,000 people are now dying every year from one antibiotic-resistant bug known as MRSA.  We know that approximately 80 percent of all antibiotics are used on animals, not on humans.  Drug companies are being asked to voluntarily phase out the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animals, and they’ve got three years to do it.  This problem is urgent.  We need stronger, quicker action.

“Animals, like people, should only get antibiotics when they are sick. The use of antibiotics for disease prevention in healthy animals should not be allowable.  This inevitably results in overuse, and is not necessary.  This is like giving all children antibiotics every day so that they don’t get ear infections.

“Drug companies should step up and commit to reducing antibiotic use in animals, period, and, at the very least, not take three years to stop using antibiotics as growth promoters.  Plus, the drug companies need to tell the public what they plan to do and how fast they are going to do it.”