Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) are asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clarify its authority over and surveillance of antibiotic use in distiller’s dried grains with soluble (DDGS); what the agency would do to better regulate these residues; and, what FDA is doing to ensure appropriate use of antibiotics in food-animal production.

Slaughter and Markey said they were concerned that corn-based livestock feed could be linked to a sharp rise in antibiotic resistance.  Their letter to FDA said, “Antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria are a grave public health threat that is growing worldwide.  As the threat of antibiotic resistance expands, we must ensure that the unnecessary use of antibiotics in agricultural animals is minimized and FDA has the ability to limit their use if it serves to protect public health.” 

The advocacy group, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, earlier released a report, “Bugs in the System: How the FDA Fails to Regulate Antibiotics in Ethanol Production,” states: “Antibiotics that are used in ethanol production are ending up in a byproduct known as dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) that are then sold as livestock feed, contributing to antibiotic resistance, a growing public health threat.” 

The National Pork Board said the data from the FDA indicates there is no evidence to suggest that extremely low levels of carryover into feed cause any food-safety concerns.  A University of Minnesota study completed this year indicated that DDGS did not contain significant antibiotic residues to be of concern to livestock producers.  FDA has substantiated in two nationwide surveys that antibiotics are not widely used in ethanol production.