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FDA Urged to Make ‘Speedy Progress’ on Antibiotics

On the heels of Cargill’s 36 million pound recall

of ground turkey sparked by a antibiotic-resistant Salmonella outbreak,

a group of Democratic lawmakers sent a letter Tuesday to the U.S. Food

and Drug Administration urging more oversight of antibiotics used in

food animal production. 

The letter, signed by Senator Kirsten

Gillibrand (D-NY) and Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Henry Waxman

(D-CA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), and Gerry

Connolly (D-VA), recommends “speedy progress forward” on regulations and

guidance currently under review at FDA to help preserve the efficacy of

antibiotics for human health.

Lawmakers pointed to the agency’s

slow movement on a draft guidance, “The Judicious Use of Medically

Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals,” otherwise

known as “Guidance #209.” Recent estimates indicate around 80 percent of

all antibiotics in the U.S. are given to food animals.

“We

recommend that you strengthen Guidance #209, finalize it quickly, and

move on to regulations. Given the rise of antibiotic resistant

pathogens, we cannot wait any longer for the finalization of Guidance

#209,” reads the letter.

Guidance #209, as it was released last

summer, recommends two principles: (1) The use of medically important

antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals should be limited to those

uses that are considered necessary for assuring animal health, and (2)

The use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing

animals should be limited to those uses that include veterinary

oversight or consultation.

The agency has received over 500 comments and is still working to finalize the document. No timeline has been announced.

Citing

an opportunity to “reduce inappropriate usage of antibiotics on farms,”

lawmakers also asked FDA to implement “meaningful veterinary oversight”

by moving forward to improve the agency’s Veterinary Feed Directive

(VFD), which tracks antibiotic usage in animal feed.

“Meaningful

veterinary involvement will allow us to strengthen our antibiotic usage

surveillance system. Collecting better data on current usage of

antibiotics in food animals is not only important for public health, but

it is also practical,” reads the letter. “Comprehensive data collection

and analysis will help American consumers to understand how antibiotics

are used in livestock production and the potential human health

implications.”

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