Bill would require new reporting on antibiotics use in meat production

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You deserve safe, healthy food. Help us label GMOs and get antibiotics out of food animals.

By Consumers Union on Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Mystery MeatWe already know that an estimated 80% of antibiotics sold in the US are given to livestock.  But what kind of antibiotics, in what quantities, and for what purpose?

Rep. Harry Waxman (D-CA) held a press event this week announcing his plan to introduce a new bill to the House called the ‘DATA’ Act (Delivering Animal Transparency in Antibiotics) that would require pharmaceutical companies and livestock feed producers to submit information to the FDA about how antibiotics are being used on farms.

Antibiotic use in livestock production is a practice that is “increasingly under the microscope,”  as Food Safety News puts it.   Industrial farms commonly use antibiotics to prevent disease, promote growth, and treat illnesses in animals, but little reliable data is currently available on the amount and type of antibiotics that are used for each category of food animal, which has hampered the FDA’s ability to address this issue

“We need reliable information about the use of antibiotics in agricultural operations,” said Rep. Waxman.  “The more we learn, the graver the threat becomes from overuse of antibiotics by industrial-scale farms.  We need this information so scientists and Congress can stop the spread of drug-resistant infections from farm animals to humans.”

The DATA Act would require drug manufacturers to disclose to the FDA how their drugs are being used (in which animals, in what quantity and for what purpose).  As antibiotics are often directly added to the feed given to livestock, the bill requires similar information from feed producers.   The bill only requires reporting on antibiotics that are important for human medicine, and excludes pets and horses.

Consumers Union’s Jean Halloran also spoke at the event.  “The daily feeding of antibiotics to healthy farms animals threatens public health by making these critical medications less effective for people. This bill will help pinpoint the extent to which antibiotics are being overused on the farm so the FDA can take appropriate action to protect public health.  We need to limit the excessive use of antibiotics in animal feed if we are going to prevent them from losing their power for people,” said Halloran.

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