According to some sources, as much as 70 percent of the antibiotics produced in the United States are fed to animals housed in the factory farm industry, animals otherwise known as “food product animals.” These antibiotics are used not only to prevent the spread of disease among animals housed in small overcrowded quarters, but are also used to spur rapid growth and production (and therefore rapid economic benefit for the factory farm industry).
It is generally recognized that the widespread use of antibiotics in factory farms has, and will have, a significant impact on human health. For instance, in a report from the United States General Accounting Office it was noted that antibiotic use is already connected to the presence of Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli in humans. The report also suggested that the use of antibiotics in food product animals lessens the effectiveness of antibiotics used to treat humans for other diseases.
On June 28, 2010 the FDA issued a draft guidance (asking for comments) discussing it’s views on the use of antibiotics in food product animals. In the guidance document the FDA concludes that such drugs should be limited to uses that are necessary for assuring animal health, and that those limited uses should be overseen by a veterinarian. This limitation, the agency believes, would greatly reduce the use of such drugs in the factory farm system and would thereby reduce potential human side effects.
Three months later, sources are abuzz with the news that the FDA is readying their new antibiotic guidelines for factory farms. The guidelines should be released within the next few months, and lets hope they make a significant difference. This of course is not the first time the FDA has considered the use of antibiotics in our food chain. In fact, in it’s own draft guidance the agency refers back to studies it conducted in the 70s which connected the mass use of antibiotics in food product animals to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria which could produce human disease. Since that time the use of antibiotics in the factory farm industry has only increased (increased at an alarming rate, I might add.) And since that time, factory farm practices have started really getting the once (and twice) over. Let’s hope that these factors combined have sufficiently engrained in the agency’s mind that change needs to happen. Now.
Filed under: animal law Tagged: | animal advocacy, animal law, animal welfare, antibiotic use, antibiotics, CAFOS, Campylobacter, diet, E. coli, factory farms, farmed animals, FDA, industrial farming, ood product animals, United States General Accounting Office