FDA Asks Meat Industry To Please Consider Not Routinely Pumping Animals Full of Antibiotics

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June 29 2010 5:18 PM

FDA Asks Meat Industry To Please Consider Not Routinely Pumping Animals Full of Antibiotics

Forty-one years after the United Kingdom concluded that feeding antibiotics to healthy animals to make them gain weight could promote drug resistance in bacteria , 12 years after the European Union banned the use of medically important antibiotics in livestock for weight gain, nine years after researchers found widespread antibiotic-resistant salmonella in American ground beef , and four years after the EU banned all feeding of antibiotics to healthy animals , the Food and Drug Administration today issued a "draft guidance" urging "judicious use of medically important antimicrobial drugs" in the American livestock industry.

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The FDA document says it "is being distributed for comment purposes only":

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FDA’s guidance documents, including this guidance, do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities. Instead, guidances describe the Agency’s current thinking on a topic and should be viewed only as recommendations, unless specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited. 

So it is up to our nation's meat producers to follow this advice themselves, if they want to. How do they feel about it? The National Pork Producers Council is outraged at this unscientific interference in its business. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association i ssued a statement reminding the public that antibiotic resistance is an " extremely complex issue that cannot be adequately addressed by solely focusing on the use of these medications in animal agriculture ." The cattle ranchers wouldn't want to do anything hasty before the whole antibacterial-soap thing gets sorted out.

Tom Scocca is the managing editor of Deadspin and the author of Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future.

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