Chickens feeding

As concerns grow over the safety of consuming conventionally raised animal products, the FDA announced that it would withdraw a long-standing proposal that would essentially limit the amount of antibiotics allowed in livestock animal feed.

The Huffington Post reports that the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) filed a lawsuit aimed at moving the FDA towards enforcing the antibiotic limit—an issue the agency first acknowledged more than 30 years ago in 1977 when the health and safety of livestock animals fed antibiotics (and the humans who eat them) first came into question. The latest decision to withdraw the proposal came when members of Congress asked the FDA to allow more research to be conducted before allowing industry hearings or enacting the ban.

According to Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), antibiotics in animal feed lead to a growing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, “Seventy percent of these infections are resistant to drugs commonly used to treat them. I wonder how many lives could have been saved if these proposals were adopted in 1977 as they should have been. We need to get our head out of the sand and start taking public health advice from scientists rather than industry lobbyists.”

A 2010 report found than nearly 80 percent of all antibiotic use in the U.S. went to livestock in 2009—some 29 million pounds of various drugs administered at low doses in food and water. The long-term exposure is an ideal condition for harmful bacteria strains to develop resistance to drugs including commonly administered penicillin and tetracycline.

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Image: dphiffer