Citing a failure by the FDA to address the link between an overuse of antibiotics in livestock and the rise in antibiotic resistant infections in humans has led to a lawsuit filed against the agency by several environmental and animal interest groups.
The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), Public Citizen and Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) formed a coalition suit in hopes to compel the FDA to support the withdrawal of non-therapeutic uses of the widely administered penicillin and tetracycline in animal feed.
Nearly 70 percent of all antibiotic use in this country goes to livestock as a part of their daily diet as a preventative measure necessary for animals forced to live in cramped and unsanitary conditions. The high levels of antibiotics contaminating food result in antibiotic resistant infections among humans, particularly children and the elderly. Peter Lehner, NRDC executive director said, “Accumulating evidence shows that antibiotics are becoming less effective, while our grocery store meat is increasingly laden with drug-resistant bacteria.”
Currently, there are no label regulations for alerting consumers to whether or not their meat and dairy products are contaminated with antibiotics (but USDA certified organic foods by law can contain no antibiotics). Lehner said that, “The FDA needs to put the American people first by ensuring that antibiotics continue to serve their primary purpose — saving human lives by combating disease.”
A recent study revealed alarming numbers of antibiotic resistant pathogens found in supermarket and restaurant meat samples, indicating that the risk of infection comes not only from the reduced immunity from eating meat raised on antibiotics, but the products themselves are now breeding grounds for antibiotic resistant infections.
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