Consumer Reports Calls On FDA To Cut Loophole Allowing Meat Producers To Use Antibiotics On Healthy Animals for Disease Prevention

Consumer Reports (CR) has launched a new Consumer Voices Survey to determine its priorities for “testing, researching, and uncovering what consumers need to know to make smarter choices in their daily life.”  The nonprofit and nonpartisan organization notes that this mission has not changed over its more than 80 years existence.

The inaugural CR Consumer Voices Survey revealed that food safety and quality continues to be “fundamental to American life” and a priority, as noted by the responses to its questioning of Americans on “their most pressing consumer concerns” for 2017. Sadly, sixty-six percent of Americans surveyed said they don’t trust the government to look out for consumer interests in response to the nationally representative survey of 1,012 adults 18 and older conducted this past January.

In analyzing the results of its inaugural survey, Consumer Reports contends that to ensure the safety of American’s meat and poultry and the health of the American public, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should “eliminate a loophole that still allows producers to use antibiotics on healthy animals in the name of disease prevention.” Reducing the number of people affected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria requires minimizing “the amount of antibiotics used in raising food animals.”

We previously reported several years ago that 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are used in livestock, and that since the 1950s, the FDA has approved the use of antibiotics in animal feed for non-therapeutic purposes, such as growth promotion and routine disease prevention (not the treatment of disease). Our earlier report focused on litigation that (to date) has not been fully resolved. Consumer Reports deserves much credit for shining a bright light on this still on-going matter.

It’s recommended that readers check out Eatwild’s directory of more than 1,400 pasture-based farms in the United States and Canada, which meet praiseworthy production standards that include that animals are not treated with routine, low-level antibiotics, and that animals which receive antibiotics, due to health problems or injury, are removed from the program.

(Frank W. Barrie, 4/3/17)

[Update on litigation against FDA (FWB 4/5/17): Shortly after the publishing of this post, we were advised by Avinash Kar, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) lead attorney in the litigation against the FDA, that the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision ruled in 2014 that the FDA did not have to consider banning the practice of regularly feeding antibiotics to animals that are not sick, despite its finding that such misuse of antibiotics threatens the effectiveness of essential human medicines. Attorney Kar noted that attention has shifted to seeking legislative changes on the state level, including California (where a state law now limits routine use of antibiotics in livestock) and Maryland (both houses have passed similar legislation limiting routine use of antibiotics in livestock). Further, NRDC has also embarked on a number of campaigns to drive change in the market place, leading to commitments by companies like Subway, Foster Farms, and McDonalds to reduce the use of antibiotics in their supply chains, particularly for chicken. NRDC now has an ongoing campaign focusing on KFC. (FWB 4/5/17)]


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