Chicken

While consumer concern over the widespread use of antibiotics in animal feed continues to rise, the FDA has become more secretive about providing the public with information regarding the sale of antibiotics for use in livestock feed, and it’s resulted in a lawsuit filed by the Government Accountability Project.

Filed last week, GAP’s claim alleges that the FDA’s decision to withhold data is unlawful per the regulations under the Animal Drug User Fee Act, which reports on information including the quantities of antibiotic drugs sold and where they will be applied: feed, water or through injection. The data is also supposed to includes which drugs are approved for which animals as well as dosage amounts. But, according to GAP, the FDA is only releasing limited information on ADUFA data.

GAP reportedly filed a Freedom of Information request in 2011 with the FDA, which the agency allegedly failed to respond to properly, according to the group, exhausting all avenues for getting the information without taking legal action. The agency’s consistent refusal to release the data, which it claims is “confidential commercial information,” led GAP to file the suit.

“The FDA frequently claims that documents sought through the FOIA process contain ‘confidential commercial information,’” said Jeff Gulley, Counsel to the group in Food Safety News. “When tested in court, however, these claims frequently don’t hold up. This response by FDA is a violation of FOIA and a wrongful withholding of agency records.”

Antibiotics are widely used in conventionally raised livestock facilities to prevent infections and illnesses from the unsanitary conditions and to increase growth. Health concerns over the use of antibiotics in animal feed include antibiotic resistance—an issue becoming so prevalent, the World Health Organization warned that the “post-antibiotic era” is rapidly approaching.

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