U.S. FDA draws criticism from environmental, consumer groups after reversing policy to regulate use of human antibiotics in animal feed; agency says industry may now self-regulate, will focus attention on voluntary reform

Andrew Rogers

Andrew Rogers

Dec 29, 2011 – Industry Intelligence

LOS ANGELES , December 29, 2011 () – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s reversal of its policy to regulate the use of human antibiotics in animal feed is drawing condemnation from environmental and consumer groups, The Guardian reported Dec. 29.

The decision to change policy course comes amid the FDA’s own concerns over food safety, and the move is at odds with its duty to protect the public, critics say. The groups also pointed to the announcement’s timing, which was made during the holiday season and only found in the federal register.

Using low doses of antibiotics in agricultural animal feed helps create drug-resistant superbugs, according to food and health experts.

In 1977, the FDA first said that the overuse of antibiotics for growth and disease prevention in healthy livestock was unsafe and could bolster antibiotic-resistant bacteria that could infect people. Now the agency is allowing the industry to self-regulate and will focus its attention toward voluntary reform and the more thoughtful use of antimicrobials in the interest of public health, according to the FDA’s statement in the federal register.

Corporate money floods politics and the current issue reflects the lack of political will when powerful industry interests are involved, according to Michael Pollan, author of the Onmivore's Dilemma and Food Rules: An Eater's Manuel.

Nearly 80% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are consumed by livestock.

The primary source of this article is The Guardian, London, England, on Dec. 29, 2011.

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