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CU calls FDA action on antibiotics important first step, but more action needed

December 11, 2013


Yonkers, NY—Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, today responded to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) action to implement a plan to help phase out the use of medically important antimicrobials in food animals for food production purposes, such as to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency. The plan would also phase in veterinary oversight of the remaining uses of such drugs.

“It’s a good first step down the path towards ending antibiotic overuse in animal agriculture and more than any administration has done in 37 years, but much more needs to be done to address disease prevention, track and report on antibiotic use,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union.

The overuse of antibiotics on food animals leads to more antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This, in turn, makes the antibiotics humans use when they get sick, less effective.

“Consumers Union remains concerned that this is a voluntary guidance, with a three year window to see how it will be implemented. We have urged that these changes be mandatory, given how urgent the problem of antibiotic resistance is,” Halloran stated.

Just recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alarming report, addressing and categorizing the threats of antibiotic resistance. Although it notes that the majority of drug-resistant infections occur in healthcare settings, concern is growing over antibiotic-resistant infections from food. The CDC said: “Because of the link between antibiotic use in food-producing animals and the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans, antibiotics should be used in food-producing animals only under veterinary oversight and only to manage and treat infectious diseases, not to promote growth.”

Consumers Union also urges Congress to pass the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, which would stop the overuse of antibiotics on food animals.

Consumers Union has long advocated for greater oversight of medically important antibiotics in animal agriculture and has engaged in a consumer education campaign, Meat Without Drugs, to persuade supermarkets to stop selling meat raised on antibiotics, in order to combat overuse of animal antibiotics and the rise in antibiotic resistant “superbugs.”

For more information, please go to http://notinmyfood.org/.

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Contact: Naomi Starkman, nstarkman.consultant@consumer.org, 917.539.3924 – cell