Antibiotic Use in Agriculture Made News This Week

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued final guidance this week on two proposals aimed at limiting the use of antibiotics in food animals in an attempt to address growing concerns about antimicrobial resistance in humans. As www.meatingplace.com reported, the move came amid a growing debate about whether the use of antibiotics on the farm is creating resistance to medicine. FDA says it does, and that the use of antibiotics in animal production needs to be limited to only therapeutic uses and not for growth promotion. The meat industry continues to point to the inconclusive link between animal antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance, emphasizing that producers are already judicious when it comes to antibiotic use.

Following the coverage of this FDA announcement, both in the agricultural and non-farm press, was quite fascinating. Food Safety News asked, “Will FDA’s Voluntary Plan Actually Reduce Antibiotics in Animal Feed?” The Food Safety News article noted that participation in the plan is voluntary because FDA believes this is the “fastest, most efficient way to make these changes.” The voluntary status was said to have disappointed and frustrated many consumer advocates concerned with maintaining the effectiveness of antibiotics. One advocate told Food Safety News, “Voluntary regulations are merely suggestions. The reason that we have regulatory agencies is because the public cannot rely on promises by industry to do better. Antibiotics have been added to animal feed for too long, and it is time to put some teeth behind regulatory requirements that limit antibiotics in animal feed.” Read the Food Safety News article here.

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Meanwhile, Burt Rutherford wrote two provocative blog posts for our sister publication, BEEF, on the antibiotic topic this week. The headline on one reads, “True or False: Animal Agriculture Uses 80% of All Antibiotics?” He asked if a commenter was correct when quoting that animal agriculture uses 80% of all antibiotics?  He goes on to note that FDA figures on antibiotics are based on overall sales, not on use. “While FDA is in the very early stages of addressing that problem, those are the only figures we have to work with at present. And sales figures tell you nothing about use or dosages.” Read this blog at the BEEF website here.

Rutherford’s other blog post trumpets this headline, “Doctors, Mothers Responsible for Antibiotic Resistant Bugs.” He notes that both human medicine and animal agriculture need antibiotics, and it’s time to tone down the rhetoric. “Polarizing this issue serves only to ensure that the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria will get worse. Should that happen, everyone who truly cares about humans and animals alike, will lose.”  Read his blog post here.

It seems that not only are the headlines and articles a good indicator of what the non-farm public is retaining as a “take home message” on this topic, but also the comments that follow many of the articles can be quite eye-opening. It is all definitely food for thought. Were there any articles or blog posts that got your attention on the antibiotic issue this week? If you’ve got thoughts or a viewpoint to share, please email lora.berg@penton.com

You might also like: 

FDA Announces Antimicrobial Use Plan

After 70 Years, Antibiotics Still Work

Humans Still Cause the Most Antibiotic Resistance

Future of Antibiotic Use is Clearer

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