The overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture and medicine is putting human lives at unnecessary risk and driving up medical costs, according to a group of group of 150 scientists that includes a former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Along with 50 US farmers and ranchers who have opted out of using non-therapeutic antibiotics in their animal feed, the scientists are calling on the FDA and Congress to work together to regulate unnecessary use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
In twin statements released on Wednesday, the scientists and farmers said that a growing body of research supported the conclusion that overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture is fueling a health crisis. One statement cited a study which estimated that antibiotic-resistant infections cost $20bn annually to hospitals alone.
Donald Kennedy, former FDA commissioner and president emeritus at Stanford University, said: “There’s no question that routinely administering non-therapeutic doses of antibiotics to food animals contributes to antibiotic resistance.”
Kennedy said the FDA’s current voluntary approach, which asks the animal drug industry to stop selling antibiotics medically important to human disease as growth promoters in animal feed, was not enough. Kennedy, who was also former editor-in-chief of Science magazine for eight years, said: “Unless it reaches the industry as a regulatory requirement it will not be taken seriously.”
Three decades after the FDA determined that growth-promoting uses of penicillin and tetracycline in agriculture were threatening human health, its own data shows that 80% of all antimicrobial drugs sold nationally are used in animal agriculture.
WASHINGTON >> Fruit distributor Splendid Products is recalling several lots of Daniella brand mangoes, which may have triggered an outbreak of salmonella that has sickened more than 100 people in 16 states.
The company said the recalled mangoes come from Mexico and carry the Daniella brand sticker. The affected lot numbers are: 3114, 4051, 4311, 4584 or 4959.
The mangoes were sold at various U.S. retailers between July 12 and August 29.
Splendid said it voluntarily recalled the product “out of an abundance of caution,” after consulting government authorities.
Federal health officials are still investigating what caused the outbreak of 103 cases of salmonella Braenderup infections. U.S. and Canadian authorities are trying to identify which mango brands or sources may have caused the illnesses. No deaths have been reported.
RALSTON, Iowa — Piglets hop, scurry and squeal their way to the far corner of the pen, eyeing an approaching human. “It shows that they’re healthy animals,” Craig Rowles, the owner of a large pork farm here, said with pride.
Mr. Rowles says he keeps his pigs fit by feeding them antibiotics for weeks after weaning, to ward off possible illness in that vulnerable period. And for months after that, he administers an antibiotic that promotes faster growth with less feed.
Dispensing antibiotics to healthy animals is routine on the large, concentrated farms that now dominate American agriculture. But the practice is increasingly condemned by medical experts who say it contributes to a growing scourge of modern medicine: the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including dangerous E. coli strains that account for millions of bladder infections each year, as well as resistant types of salmonella and other microbes.
Now, after decades of debate, the Food and Drug Administration appears poised to issue its strongest guidelines on animal antibiotics yet, intended to reduce what it calls a clear risk to human health. They would end farm uses of the drugs simply to promote faster animal growth and call for tighter oversight by veterinarians.
By Jim Jelter, MarketWatch
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Safeway Inc. announced Thursday a major, nine-state recall of salmonella-tainted ground beef sold between June 6 and July 14.
Safeway (SWY) , the giant grocery store chain based in Pleasanton, Calif., said the recall involved 825,769 pounds, or nearly 43 tons, of meat that the company said "may be linked to an outbreak of Salmonellosis."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the meat was processed at a Beef Packers Inc. meat-packing plant in Fresno, Calif., and sold in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Beef Packers is a subsidiary of privately-held Cargill, one of the world’s biggest food producers and marketers, with sales last year of $120 billion.