Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Thursday to ban the extra-label use of certain antibiotics in food animal production that are of critical importance in human medicine.

In a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Rep. Slaughter urged the agency to finalize a stalled rule to ban extra-label use of cephalosporin, a class of antibiotics that make up less than 1 percent of antibiotic use in animal agriculture. Approximately 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to animals.
Last month a coalition of 21 public health and consumer groups — including Union for Concerned Scientists, the American Medical Association, and the Sierra Club — sent a letter to FDA with a similar message. 

After announcing a withdrawal order for extra-label use of cephalosporins in food animals in July 2008, the rule was withdrawn the following November and has not been reissued.

“It has now been almost three years since FDA determined that extra-label cephalosporins as currently used in food producing animals creates a public health risk,” writes Slaughter, the sole microbiologist serving in Congress, in her letter.

“While the FDA delays taking action, people continue to become ill from cephalosporin resistant infections. Given the critical importance of the cephalosporin class of drugs to human medicine, we ask that you quickly reissue the prohibition on the extra-label use of cephalosporins in food producing animals.”

Slaughter also pointed to news this month that the first antibiotic-resistant case of gonorrhea has been identified as one reason to preserve the effectiveness of cephalosporins. The class of antibiotics have been the most effective treatment of gonorrhea, the second most prevalent STD worldwide.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bacterial infection is becoming less susceptible to cephalasporins, and that development is worrisome. “The emergence of cephalosporin-resistant gonorrhea would significantly complicate our ability to treat gonorrhea successfully, since we have few antibiotic options left that are simple, well-studied, and highly effective,” says CDC.

“This new strain is likely to transform a common and once easily treatable infection into a global threat to public health,” caution the researchers who discovered the new multidrug-resistant superbug in a statement.

Updated to reflect Rep. Slaughter represents a district in New York, not California. Article also originally incorrectly stated that approximately 80 percent of antibiotics are fed to animals.

  • Doc Mudd

    Slaughter points to a case of gonorrhea in Japan resistant to antibiotics: “A new, untreatable strain of the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea has been discovered in Japan, according to an international team of infectious disease experts.”
    Where does she connect the dots between drug-resistant gonorrhea, a promiscuous Japanese and our American livestock? What was this Japanese doing recently to/with our chickens or pigs here in the US to injure herself/himself with this mutated STD?
    I’m sure we could be using antibiotics more effectively and more responsibly, but Slaughter (who claims once upon a time to have been a microbiologist) ought to instruct us in the science of the politics. If one case of non-lethal Japanese gonorrhea justifies the banning of an animal medicine here in the US, certainly the killing of over 50 people with organic sprouts in Germany requires us to ban unsafe organic farming in America.
    Geez, we’ll be lucky if the Japanese aren’t offended by Slaughter’s insinution, lucky if we can avoid an international incident over this. Hillary is probably making our apologies and excuses to the Japanese right now ;>)

  • Moon Flower

    Great, there goes my Japanese sex tourist business. I had the cattle ranch in Texas all lined up, with day trips to Iowa pork farms and Indiana chicken houses. Thanks Louise. Thanks a lot.

  • navcat

    @DOC Mudd,
    Its not about one single case or neither Louise Slaughter (D-NY) the reference is as an example. to find one case of drug resistant gonorhea easily means it already spearding.. that person either got it from someone or transmitted it to another while a unprotected session.. and the chain goes one. so its actually spreading as we speak. we don’t know.. and maybe one of those guys/gal flew to US.. and starts spreading it around. This is not speculation. This is how the infection moves themsleves to new hosts. The main problem in US having drug resistant super bugs is because of the high use of antibiotics in food. The other so called “undeveloped countries” use less to no antibiotics in the food. So they are able to respond to the anti biotics. while USA is in constant fight to create highly potent drugs (not be proud). The more antibiotics you take into your system the more the infection and things get used to the antibiotics in your body. You must open yourself to the world. US is not the only country in the WORLD.

  • Doc Mudd

    Well, all rightie, then!
    Boy, I sure am relieved we’re cradled safely in the knowledgeable arms of the keenest medical minds in the business on this one.
    We wouldn’t want mere politicians and scientifically illiterate propagandists amusing themselves by ignorantly mucking up our food supply without a good sound reason, would we?