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Americans to U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Preserve Life-Saving Medicines; Reduce Antibiotic Use in Food Animal Production

WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today a broad coalition of organizations hand-delivered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more than 180,000 letters responding to the agency's request for comments on rules governing the use of antibiotics on industrial farms.  By the tens of thousands, American citizens have sent the FDA a clear message: antibiotics are a vital foundation of public health in the United States; overuse and misuse has created a threatening crisis of antibiotic resistance; and it is time for the federal government to ensure strict veterinary oversight and force the food animal industry to curtail the routine use of antibiotics.  

The letters were collected by a coalition of organizations committed to saving antibiotics as pillars of public health in the United States.  The groups include: Center for Food Safety; Center for Science in the Public Interest; CREDO Action;; Farm Aid; Food & Water Watch; Food Democracy Now!; The Humane Society of the United States; Organic Consumers Association; and Union of Concerned Scientists.  

The correspondence from citizens responded to requests by FDA for comments on two recent actions related to oversight and control of antibiotic use in food animal production.  In March, the FDA announced its intention to alter its Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) guidelines, which govern the role and procedures veterinarians must follow with regard to prescribing antibiotic use in animal agriculture.  In June, the agency issued draft guidance calling on the food animal industry to voluntarily curtail the non-judicious use of antibiotics on industrial farms, which threatens human health.

Reflecting the view of leading scientific and health experts, the citizen comments express concern that the planned revisions to VFD guidelines could weaken veterinary oversight and controls on antibiotic use on industrial farms and that the FDA guidance on non-judicious use does not sufficiently curtail the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in animals that are not sick.      

Here are examples of comments sent to FDA:

  • "My healthy and gorgeous dream boy of a son, Simon, died within 16 hours of his first symptoms.  The cause: antibiotic resistance.  Simon contracted an antibiotic resistant bacterium, MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus).  His infection could
    have been prevented years ago when bacteria actually succumbed to antibiotics."  
  • "Take this opportunity to protect our food supply, our population, and the future of medicine with a meaningful regulation that helps to solve a dangerous current situation."  
  • "Antibiotics in agriculture should be used under direct supervision of a veterinarian on individual animals."  
  • "I am an infectious disease specialist, and well aware of the progressively increasing problem of resistant bacteria, now not only a problem in hospitalized patients, but in many individuals acquiring hard to treat infections in the community. Scientific research has established that the widespread non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in the raising of food animals has contributed greatly to this problem. I strongly support new regulations to ban the use of antibiotics in feed, and restriction of antibiotics to treatment for infection, carried out by licensed veterinarians."

Together, the coalition of organizations is calling on FDA to heed the overwhelming scientific evidence and outpouring of citizen concern by (1) strengthening the agency's VFD guidelines and (2) making mandatory, rather than voluntary, its June guidance to ensure that antibiotics only be used under veterinary supervision to treat sick animals, thus protecting human health.

SOURCE Center for Food Safety; Center for Science in the Public Interest; CREDO Action;; Farm Aid; Food & Water Watch; Food Democracy Now!; The Humane Society of US; Organic Consumers Association; Union of Concerned Scientists
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