FDA: Too Many Antibiotics

Posted on Jul 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

30/06/2010 16:55:00 Rachel Stockton

Typically, when the Food and Drug Administration makes a statement regarding anything controversial, both sides of the issue are going to be patently upset.

This time is no different. In a draft guidance letter, the agency called on farmers and ranchers to work more closely with veterinarians before administering antibiotics to animals that will end up in the food chain. Typically, antibiotics are given to animals for one of three reasons: to treat the animals for illnesses, to promote production, or to fatten them up. The FDA is calling on agricultural workers to only administer the antibiotics if an animal’s health is at stake.

The reason for the announcement? The FDA alleges that administering too many antibiotics could potentially promote antibiotic resistance in bacteria that are harmful too humans. Once bacteria become “turned on” an antibiotic, they mutate, becoming immune to its affects.

While the National Pork Producers called the letter too burdensome, the Union of Concerned Scientists allege that the agency has moved too slowly, despite the “mountain of evidence” pointing to an association between antibiotics in the food chain and the “evolution” of harmful pathogens

(LA Times).

The New York Times reports that some advocacy groups are accusing the FDA of bowing to political interests rather than adhering to its foremost priority of serving the public.

According to the CDC, antibiotic resistant bacteria are a pressing concern; typically, resistance occurs when people themselves ingest antibiotics on a too-frequent basis. The agency encourages the public to be wise when it comes to antibiotics by making sure they take them only when necessary. Remember, antiobiotics are only effective when treating bacterial infections. Taking them for viruses, such as the common cold, only increases the odds that immunity to antiobiotics will occur in the future.