Consumers Union troubled by FDA report that shows increasing antibiotics use in animals

April 10, 2015

Consumers Union Troubled By FDA Report That Shows Increasing Antibiotics Use In Animals

Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, is deeply troubled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) annual report, released today, summarizing the sales data on antimicrobial drugs approved for use in animals. FDA’s report shows that sales of medically important antibiotics in the United States for use on animals in the production of meat increased 20 percent between 2009 and 2013.

“This sobering assessment shows that FDA’s voluntary approach to reducing the use of antibiotics in meat production does not work,” said Dr. Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist for Consumers Union. “The bulk of the medically-important antibiotics used on farms—98%—are available over-the-counter without a veterinary prescription, for farmers to buy for whatever use they deem necessary.”

FDA is trying to phase out the use of antibiotics on healthy food animals for the purpose of growth promotion. However, most healthy animals are still routinely fed antibiotics to prevent disease so that they can tolerate the typically overcrowded, unsanitary conditions in which they live.

“Consumers Union believes that sick animals should always be treated, but we are strongly opposed to the use of antibiotics on healthy food animals for the purpose of promoting growth or preventing disease,” Dr. Hansen stated.

Eighty percent of the antibiotics produced in the United States are used on the farm in the production of meat. This practice creates the proliferation of antibiotics-resistant superbugs that migrate off the farm and into communities, making medicines for human disease less effective.

“These new figures from FDA prove that we as a nation are not doing enough about the serious public health crisis posed by the overuse of antibiotics in meat production. The effectiveness of medicines for human use are being squandered on healthy animals. Much more must be done to stop this practice and preserve medically important antibiotics,” said Dr. Hansen.

Consumers Union is in strong support of the federal Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act and Oregon’s Senate Bill 920, both of which would prohibit the use of medically important antibiotics on healthy food animals in the production of meat.

Contact: Michael Hansen, 917-774-3801 or Jean Halloran, 914-378-2457