National Consumers League

A push to cleanse America's meat

kelsey By Kelsey Albright, Linda Golodner Food Safety & Nutrition Fellow A week ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a ruling making clear its intent to reduce the amount of antibiotics in animal feed.  It is the first push in the Obama administration’s three-year strategy of reducing the unnecessary use of antibiotics, especially for growth promotion, in livestock and poultry.

The largest motivation for this proposal is to reduce the increasing number of antibiotic-resistant infections which kill thousands of Americans each year. FDA’s announcement included a final guidance which asks veterinary drug companies to voluntarily remove growth promoting claims from antibiotics that are most important in human medicine.  The other part of the announcement detailed the proposed rule that would require prescriptions from veterinarians for antibiotics currently sold over the counter and added to animal’s food and water.

Two of the largest veterinary drug companies, Zoetis and Elanco, have openly supported the proposed rule and either already comply or are planning to comply with the guidance recommending the removal of growth-promotion claims from labels.  However, many antibiotic activists are saying both the rule and the guidance are too weak to initiate real change. Despite harsh criticisms from politicians and invested organizations, I feel that FDA should be applauded for its efforts.  While these actions may not be as extreme as I, or any of my fellow nutrition advocates, would have liked, it is a step in the right direction on FDA’s behalf.  Progress doesn’t happen in one day, it takes time, it is a clock with ever moving interconnected gears that never stops ticking.  This rule is now one of those gears and I am glad to see if fall into rotation, hopefully opening more doors for stricter antibiotics regulation in the future.