Chickens

Donald Kennedy, former FDA commissioner and president emeritus at Stanford University, is one of 150 scientists that have asked the FDA and Congress to look at the human health issues connected with the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture, and for both agencies to work together to resolve the critical situation.

The scientists’ statement was released last Wednesday along with a similar one from 50 farmers and ranchers who no longer use non-therapeutic antibiotics in caring for their livestock.

Not a new issue to either agency, the discussion about the risks of excessive antibiotics use in animal feed first began some 30 years ago when the FDA determined that antibiotics including penicillin and tetracycline, which are primarily used to accelerate animal growth, posed serious human health risks, mainly antibiotic resistance to treat infections. Kennedy said in the statement, “Unless it reaches the industry as a regulatory requirement it will not be taken seriously.”

One of the most common side-effects of antibiotics in animal feed is the increased risk of food poisoning from antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria including salmonella and campylobacter, as well as more serious infections from the E. coli bacteria and MRSA (methicillin‐resistant staphylococcus aureus).

More than 80 percent of the nation’s supply of antibiotic drugs is routed to animal feed rather than humans. And according to Kennedy, “There’s no question that routinely administering non-therapeutic doses of antibiotics to food animals contributes to antibiotic resistance.”

In a recent statement, the World Health Organization suggested that the United States could be entering into a “post-antibiotic era” directly related to the resistance developing from antibiotics used in animal feed.

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