April 19, 2018

Get Smart About Antibiotics Week

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have announced that November 12 -18 2012 is “Get Smart About Antibiotics” Week. Antibiotic therapy is one of the most important tools medicine has to combat life-threatening bacterial infections. Unfortunately, overuse of antibiotics promote antibiotic resistance among bacteria and can reduce or severely compromise the drug’s effectiveness.

While consumers and doctors need to work together to prevent misuse of antibiotics in people, organizations are pressuring the USDA and FDA to place restrictions on antibiotic use in farm animals. Many farm animals are routinely treated with subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics to encourage growth and to overcome overcrowded growing and living conditions.

We’ve told you about this problem before. Last month, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) announced plans to introduce a bill called “Delivering Antibiotic Transparency in Animals Act (DATA) that will give the FDA information about types and amounts of antibiotics that are routinely given to animals in their feed. Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, states that antibiotic resistance in bacteria could “end modern medicine.” ¬†And in July, Food and Water Watch, the National Resources Defense Council, and Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future asked the FDA to abide by a federal court decision that ordered the agency to withdraw approvals for subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics in food animals.

That court decision was big news last summer. In March 2012, Judge Theodore Katz ruled that the FDA must abide by its 1977 decision process to remove growth-promoting antibiotics that are put into feed. The judge ordered the FDA to begin proceedings to withdraw approval for antibiotic use unless drug manufacturers can provide evidence that the subtherapeutic use of the drugs is safe. The FDA appealed that decision, and in June 2012, Judge Katz ruled that the FDA must abide by the decision.

So what can you do? Meat Without Drugs.org has a petition to Trader Joe’s, asking them to source and sell only meat and poultry raised without antibiotics. Change.org also has a petition to the FDA, asking them to restrict the use of antibiotics in all parts of the food production chain. Consumers Union has also bee involved in this issue, writing a paper on November 10, 2012, that states overuse of antibiotics in food animals threatens public health. And you can ask about antibiotic-free meat and poultry where you shop.

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