Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics Advises the FDA Needs to Establish a System to Monitor Use of Antibiotics in Food Animal Production
APUA President Says Mass Use of Antibiotics Is Cause for Concern
BOSTON – August 31, 2010 – Guidelines issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to curb the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in food-producing animals will have little impact in fighting the growing threat of antibiotic resistance to public health unless the agency halts the practice and establishes a system to monitor compliance, according to the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA).
“Without mandating the termination of injudicious use and establishing a system to monitor compliance, I believe that the new FDA guidance will be to no avail: agribusiness will continue its practice of feeding animals antibiotics non-therapeutically,” Stuart B. Levy, president of APUA and an internationally recognized authority on antibiotic resistance, wrote to the FDA.
Levy’s comments were made in connection with the FDA’s request for comments on proposed rules governing use of antibiotics on industrial farms, and reflect similar comments made by tens of thousands of American citizens. Comments on the proposed rules were due yesterday.
Last week, a coalition of organizations hand delivered more than 180,000 letters to the FDA, with many expressing concern that the proposed guidance on non-judicious use does not sufficiently curtail the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in animals that are not sick. That coalition included Center for Food Safety; Center for Science in the Public Interest; CREDO Action; FamilyFarmed.org; Farm Aid; Food & Water Watch; Food Democracy Now!; The Humane Society of the United States; Organic Consumers Association; and Union of Concerned Scientists.
Citing the FDA’s draft guidance “as a step forward,” Levy noted that the FDA’s proposals on limiting the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals establishes the groundwork to build consensus among major stakeholders—public health and agribusiness—by limiting the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs to treat sick animals through inclusion of veterinary oversight, and removing antibiotics to promote growth and feed efficiency.
However, he added, “The fact that the FDA considers mass administration of antibiotics to herd/flock through feed and water as a viable prevention strategy is cause for concern.”
According to APUA, high-volume use of antibiotics at food animal production sites is a major contributor to the selection and transfer of dangerous resistance mechanisms that can end up in human pathogens. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that up to 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to food animals, most of it, not to treat or prevent disease, but to make the animals gain weight faster and to compensate for the crowded conditions often found in such enormous facilities.
APUA, the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (www.apua.org), founded in 1981 and based at Tufts University in Boston, Mass., is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the power of existing antibiotics and increasing access to needed new agents. With a chapter network spanning more than 60 countries, APUA represents the largest field presence among organizations engaged in research, education, and advocacy to improve public policy and antibiotic treatment practices worldwide.