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Update: FDA Restricts Some Antibiotics in Livestock

Update: FDA Restricts Some Antibiotics in Livestock
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A few days ago I reported the alarming news that the FDA had abandoned its efforts to regulate antibiotics in livestock. The information came straight from the Federal Register.

On January 4th, the FDA opened the door a crack to mandatory regulation of at least one class of antibiotics, cephalosporins. The announcement explains the FDA’s reason for the action:

The cephalosporin class of drugs is important in treating human diseases, such as pneumonia, skin and tissue infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and other conditions. It is critical to preserve the effectiveness of these drugs.

FDA is concerned that certain extralabel uses of cephalosporins in cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys are likely to contribute to cephalosporin-resistant strains of certain bacterial pathogens. If cephalosporins are not effective in treating human diseases from these pathogens, doctors may have to use drugs that are not as effective or that have greater side effects.

The Agency is particularly concerned about the extralabel use of cephalosporin drugs that are not approved for use in cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys because little is known about their microbiological or toxicological effects when used in these food-producing animals.

Small But Significant Change?

Writing for Mother Jones, Tom Philpott points out “that cephalosporins make up a tiny—and shrinking—percentage of the antibiotics used in factory farms.” In fact, the FDA’s report on antimicrobials that end up in food-producing animals puts cephalosporins at less than .2% of the total sold and distributed for use in U.S. livestock. That 2010 figure is down 41% from 2009. So the move is hardly a major shift in policy.

The new ruling cuts farmers and veterinarians more slack than the original restriction proposed in 2008. On the good side, cephalosporins will no longer be routinely injected into factory-farmed chicken eggs, and use in cattle and pigs will be more tightly controlled.

That is a move in the right direction, but the new ruling is a small blip on the larger antibiotic screen. Given FDA’s foot dragging for the past 34 years, it hardly merits notice, let alone celebration, particularly in light of the pre-Christmas gift handed to the livestock industry. Whether or not it signals a shift in direction remains to be seen. One thing is certain, though: three groups will be pushing hard against even the smallest progress.

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First photo from luisrock62; second photo from luisrock62 - both via morgueFile

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159 comments

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12:43PM PST on Jan 18, 2013

Signée

6:10AM PDT on Aug 14, 2012

Grazie per le informazioni.

5:15AM PDT on Mar 17, 2012

No big surprise here. But, way too little too late...non-humans and humans alike will suffer the consequences.

2:41PM PST on Jan 22, 2012

That is why I am a vegetarian, not that all fruits & veggies and the things that we eat are always 100% free of human intervention

7:07AM PST on Jan 20, 2012

GOD I´M GLAD EAT VEGAN !
WHY SO MUCH MUST EAT THAT MUCH OF MEAT ?
I´M VERY SORRY FOR THEIR HEALTH BUT MUCH MORE FOR THE PAIN OF THE ANIMALS !!
Thanks

4:55AM PST on Jan 19, 2012

ban antibiotic in healthy animals

8:46PM PST on Jan 18, 2012

not enough!

8:50AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

Thanks

9:04PM PST on Jan 15, 2012

Thanks fir the info.

9:06AM PST on Jan 15, 2012

Voted 'no!'
Petition signed.
ALL antibiotics should be banned in HEALTHY animals.

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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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