What's There to Hide?
Nov. 25 is the deadline to convince the Food and Drug Administration that we deserve to know more about the meat we eat.
Each year, nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics—four times the amount used by humans—are sold for food animal production. Most of these drugs do not require a prescription from a veterinarian and are fed to healthy pigs, chickens, and cows to make them grow faster and to compensate for overcrowding and poor sanitation. These practices create dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can infect people.
The bad news is that we don’t know enough about how antibiotics are used on industrial farms because of a lack of transparency. The good news is that, right now, we have the opportunity to learn more.
FDA has proposed giving the public more details on how antibiotics are used on the farm. Unfortunately, the proposal has significant gaps that could still leave us guessing exactly how often antibiotics are fed to healthy animals, and which species of animals are being given these vital medicines. This additional information would help people understand how the animals’ health—and our own—might be at risk.
Tell the FDA: I have the right to know how and why antibiotics are used to produce the meat I eat.
Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act
Imagine your child went to a school that was so crowded and dirty that you had to sprinkle antibiotics on their cereal just to keep them from getting sick. You wouldn’t stand for it, would you? Yet that is what’s happening on industrial farms every day: Chickens, turkeys, cows, and pigs are raised in such poor conditions that the only way to keep them from getting sick is to put antibiotics in their daily feed.
What’s worse is that these practices threaten our health. By steadily feeding antibiotics to food animals, industrial farms have become breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria that can end up in our food, air, water, and eventually in us.
Fortunately, Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (H.R. 1150). Her bill would restrict the most dangerous antibiotic practices and help prevent the spread of drug-resistant superbugs. It has been endorsed by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other health and medical leaders.
Please ask your representative to take a stand for public health and co-sponsor the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act.
President Obama: We Are Still Waiting
Please ask President Obama to take a stand against antibiotic overuse and finish the job that FDA started in 1977.
Support the Antimicrobial Data Collection Act
Although decades of science clearly show that overusing antibiotics on industrial farms breeds drug-resistant bacteria that can infect us and make illnesses more difficult for doctors to treat, we need to know more about the scope of the problem.
Eighty percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are destined for food animal production. Often, these drugs are fed in low doses to livestock that are confined in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions on industrial farms, the perfect breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and a serious threat to human health. Unfortunately, there is almost no publicly released data on how these antibiotics are being used for food animal production. This critical information is needed to better track antibiotic-resistant bacteria and determine whether policies to alleviate the problem are working.
Fortunately, legislation introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Susan Collins (R-ME) would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to publicly report more information on annual antibiotic sales for industrial farm animals. The bipartisan bill would also give the agency a mandate to finalize policies proposed more than a year ago to eliminate the use of antibiotics for growth-promotion purposes.
Please send a note to your senators and ask them to take a stand for public health and co-sponsor the Antimicrobial Data Collection Act.
Please Support The DATA Act
America's meat and poultry producers have a drug problem that is contributing to a public health crisis.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, reported that drugmakers sold about 30 million pounds of antibiotics in 2011 for food animal production, the highest amount ever recorded and staggering when compared to the 7.7 million pounds sold to treat sick people. This data is valuable, but we need better information to understand how antibiotic use for livestock contributes to the development of drug-resistant superbugs that can infect people.
Ask your representative to shine a light on antibiotic use for food animal production.
Right now, there is proposed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would let people know much more about how antibiotics we need to get well are also misused on industrial farms. Introduced by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the Delivering Antimicrobial Transparency in Animals Act (H.R. 820), or DATA Act, would require drug companies and food animal producers to let the FDA know in what animals antibiotics are being given and why.
Please take a moment to ask your representative to support the DATA Act. We have the right to know how our food is produced.