July 20, 2018

NRDC Sues FDA over Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Information

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is suing the FDA for failing to respond in a timely manner to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information about antibiotic resistant bacteria on meat and how antibiotics are used in farm animals. The government failed to respond to the request despite repeated follow up attempts. Last year, the Government Accountability Project also sued the FDA for the same failure to provide information.

GavelThe FOIA request was filed in November 2012, asking for information on the volume of antibiotics used as well as data underlying reports on the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in meat. The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) collects data about antimicrobial resistance of foodborne bacteria, but they only release a summary. The raw data behind the reports is not released. In addition, the federal Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) requires the FDA to collect data on animal drugs containing antimicrobials, but the FDA only releases a brief summary of that information to the public.

Most antibiotics used in farm animals are given to animals that aren’t sick, but are used to increase growth and weight gain and to compensate for poor living conditions. Health and consumer organizations have repeatedly warned that antibiotic resistant bacteria in our food is increasing. This leads to longer illnesses, the use of second or third-tier antibiotics with more serious side effects, and more human death. But the FDA has done “virtually nothing to act on antibiotic misuse in livestock,” according to NRDC.

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