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Letter to Congressman Brown Supporting His Legislation to Have No Fluoroquinolones in Chickens in School Lunch Programs

October 7, 2003
The Honorable Sherrod Brown
United States House of Representatives
2332 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Brown:
I am writing on behalf of Consumers Union, the independent, non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports, to express our support for legislation you have introduced to ensure that chickens used in the school lunch program are raised without the use of fluoroquinolones. With antibiotic resistance problems on the rise, H.R. 3022, the School Nutrition Antibiotic Safety Act, would help to ensure the continued efficacy of this new and important generation of antibiotics, thus protecting human health.
As you know, fluoroquinolones, including Cipro, offer great promise as replacements for older, less effective antibiotics, such as penicillin and tetracycline. However, just like those older antibiotics, the efficacy of fluoroquinolones in treating human disease is jeopardized by, among other things, increased use to speed animal growth and prevent disease in animals. We believe that it in order to protect human health, it is essential that we take all necessary steps to ensure that fluoroquinolones do not develop the same resistance problems found in older antibiotics, including restricting the use of fluoroquinolones in animals being raised for food production.
H.R. 3022 would require the United States Department of Agriculture to ensure that chickens and chicken products purchased for the school lunch program have not been given fluoroquinolones. Fast food companies like McDonald’s and Wendy’s, as well as major chicken producers such as Tyson and Purdue, have already taken steps to eliminate fluoroquinolone use in the chickens they produce or purchase. H.R. 3022 would therefore add the clout of USDA’s purchasing power to the momentum already gained by initiatives in the private sector to reduce fluoroquinolone use in animals.
Thank you for introducing this important legislation to protect medically necessary antibiotics. We look forward to working with you to secure passage of H.R. 3022.
Adam J. Goldberg
Policy Analyst