Food Safety News - Iowa State University Extension

WASHINGTON: Kennedy on antibiotic use in food supply

4/30/2008

From a press release
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WASHINGTON, DC--Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, issued the following statement in response the release of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production report on public health aspects of antimicrobial use in food animals.

The Only 3 Rules You Need To Trade The Market "The Pew Commission report makes clear that strict controls are needed to prevent the excessive use of antibiotics in agriculture that could lead to antibiotic-resistant infections in humans. The evidence-based recommendations strongly support pending legislation in Congress to require full assessment of the risks of antibiotic use in animals, and withdrawal of approval for any drug that contributes to such resistance."

THE PRESERVATION OF ANTIBIOTICS FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT ACT OF 2007 Background The widespread use of antibiotics beginning in the 1940's provided - for the first time in history- effective treatments for infectious diseases. These miracle drugs have saved countless lives, but they are losing their effectiveness. Antibiotics that once had the power to cure dangerous infections are now often useless, because microbes have become resistant to all but the newest and most expensive drugs - and some "superbugs" are impervious to any weapons in the medical arsenal.

Resistance to antibiotics takes a heavy toll on patients across the nation. The World Health Organization estimates that 14,000 Americans die every year from drug-resistant infections. This means that one American dies from a resistant infection every 38 minutes.

It seems scarcely believable that these precious medications could be fed by the ton to chickens and pigs - but that's exactly what's happening in farms all over America. Over 20 million pounds of antibiotics are fed to farm animals every year. That's more than is used in all of medicine. These precious drugs aren't even used to treat sick animals.

They are used to fatten pigs and speed the growth of chickens. The result of this rampant overuse is clear: meat contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria sits on supermarket shelves all over America. Every family is potentially at risk. The most vulnerable among us - children, elderly, persons with HIV/AIDS - are particularly endangered by resistant infections. At a time when the nation is relying on antibiotics and other medications to protect our homeland's security from the grave threat of bioterrorism, we can no longer squander these precious weapons in the fight against disease by feeding them indiscriminately to livestock. Provisions of the Legislation

*The Preservation of Antibiotics for Human Treatment Act of 2007 will protect the health of Americans by phasing out the non-therapeutic use in livestock of medically important antibiotics, unless their manufacturers can show that they pose no danger to the public health. The Act requires this same tough standard of new applications for approval of animal antibiotics. *The Act does not restrict use of antibiotics to treat sick animals or to treat pets and other animals not used for food.

*The Act provides for Federal payments to farmers to defray their costs in switching to antibiotic-free husbandry practices, with a preference given to family farms. The Act also authorizes grants for research and demonstration programs on means to reduce the use of antibiotics in the raising of livestock.

*The Act requires manufacturers to report: (1) on the amounts of antibiotics they supply for animal use (2) on the animals to which those drugs are given and (3) on the uses for which those drugs are supplied.

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Food safety news is compiled from a number of sources and is provided only for informational purposes. Accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by Iowa State University. Headlines are sometimes rewritten for clarity or to fit space. Original sources are indicated whenever possible and full stories may not be posted to honor the original author copyright.