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slow movement on a draft guidance, “The Judicious Use of Medically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