2013 promises to be a busy year when it comes to antibiotic policies. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Congress will be pursuing multiple paths to curb the overuse of these life-saving drugs in meat and poultry production, and we are going to need your help every step of the way to ensure we cross the finish line!
Here’s a primer to help you keep all of the proposed policies straight.
Eliminating the Use of Antibiotics as a Substitute for Good Animal Husbandry
Industrial meat and poultry producers often rely on antibiotics to make their food animals grow faster and to compensate for overcrowded and unsanitary conditions—and these practices are breeding superbugs that can infect us.
Last April, the FDA issued a pair of “guidances” designed to eliminate these practices. The first, known as Guidance #209, is a final document that declared antibiotic use for growth promotion and other economic purposes are inappropriate and should be ended. The second, known as Guidance #213, is a draft document that proposed to the drug industry how to comply with #209.
Nearly 220,000 people submitted comments to the FDA last summer, urging the agency to strengthen these measures. We have identified two major concerns that FDA should address:
- First, the FDA must clarify the policy so that it eliminates the use of antibiotics not just to make animals grow faster but also to compensate for overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. In practice, these uses can be very similar, and both threaten human health.
- Second, the agency must lay out a plan to monitor whether its policies are actually reducing antibiotic overuse. It should accomplish this by collecting and reporting more antibiotic sales and use data.
Putting Veterinarians in the Driver’s Seat
In 2013, we will be urging the FDA to take the next step in this process: issuing a draft Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulation.
Reporting More Antibiotic Sales Data
In 2013, we will work to broaden the agency’s ability to answer more key questions: How many antibiotics are being used just to make animals grow faster and to compensate for unsanitary conditions? How many drugs are sold over the counter versus by prescription? What types of animals are getting which antibiotics?
Fortunately, on Feb. 26, 2013, Representatives Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) introduced the Delivering Antimicrobial Transparency in Animals (DATA) Act (H.R. 820) in the U.S. House of Representatives. On May 8, 2013, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Antimicrobial Data Collection Act (S. 895). The bills would authorize the FDA to collect and report data that would shed light on how antibiotics are being used on industrial farms.
Comprehensive Legislation to Curb Antibiotic Overuse
Introduced by Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) on March 14, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) (H.R. 1150) would protect eight classes of antibiotics important for treating sick people. It would withdraw their use from food animal production unless animals or herds are sick with disease or unless drug companies can prove that their use does not harm human health. This bill is co-sponsored by 47 members of Congress.
On June 27, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act (S. 1256), a bipartisan bill that would also eliminate certain antibiotic-related practices that contribute to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria and endanger human health. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jack Reed (D-RI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) are original co-sponsors of the bill.
Getting all of these policies adopted by Congress or the FDA will take hard work, but you can help! Please stay tuned for more news from us and action alerts asking you to write to your members of Congress and the administration in support of these bills and agency actions.
- Date added:
- Mar 5, 2013
Chris Linaman, executive chef at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, WA, is dedicated to creating a more sustainable food system by supporting growers and producers who raise food without the routine use of antibiotics that endanger the public’s health. Working in partnership with Health Care Without Harm and Overlake’s administration, Chris has created a comprehensive sustainable food purchasing policy for Overlake Hospital that has resulted in many impressive achievements in just a short time.More info
Two former FDA commissioners – David Kessler (1990-1997) and Donald Kennedy (1977-1979) – wrote to OMB Director Sylvia Matthews Burwell urging her to take action on antibiotics in agricultural feed.More info
SuperChefs Against Superbugs, an initiative of the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming, is a movement of chefs nationwide who have expressed their support of ending the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in food animal production. As a result, the SuperChefs are urging the Food and Drug Administration to strengthen its antibiotic policies.More info
In comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Pew asked the agency to improve the way it reports annual sales of antibiotics for use in food animal production. Chief among its recommendations, Pew urged the FDA to amend the definition of “therapeutic” antibiotic use to more clearly exclude inappropriate uses for so-called “disease prevention” purposes that, in practice, are similar or identical to growth promotion.More info
Organizations representing the medical, public health, and sustainable agriculture communities are urging the Obama administration to end antibiotic overuse and misuse in food animal production. They asked President Obama to direct the Office of Management and Budget to finalize Food and Drug Administration Guidance #213 and issue a proposed rule on the Veterinary Feed Directive in order to initiate the three-year phase-out of growth promotion and production-related uses of antibiotics.More info
So far this year, more than 300 people have gotten sick from bacteria called Salmonella heidelberg. Almost three-quarters of them live in California. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that chicken produced in three Central California processing facilities is the "likely source of this outbreak" and that the bacteria are "resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics."More info
Latest Foodborne Illnesses Show Links Between Farm Antibiotic Use and Resistant Bacteria in U.S. Poultry SupplyAn ongoing outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg this year has already sickened nearly 300 people who consumed contaminated chicken, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More info
This week, The Pew Charitable Trusts delivered a letter signed by 530 chefs to Sam Kass, executive director of Let’s Move! and senior policy advisor for nutrition at the White House, urging the Obama administration to finalize policies to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics and to protect people from resistant superbugs.More info
Consumers across the United States are demanding meat and poultry raised without antibiotics—and large producers, restaurants, and other institutions are listening. Following is a list of some leading companies offering responsibly produced food.More info
Decades have passed since FDA first tried – and failed – to restrict antibiotic use on industrial farms, a practice that contributes to the development of drug resistant bacteria that can infect people. Ask President Obama to finish the jobMore info
Jeffco Public Schools is the largest school district in Colorado with nearly 86,000 students and about 12,000 employees. On Sept. 18, 2013—Colorado Proud Day—the school system began serving chicken raised without antibiotics to its students, along with other fresh, locally produced food. Executive Director of Food and Nutrition Services Linda Stoll answered some questions about the importance of Jeffco’s new menu item.More info