The recall of 36 million pounds of Cargill turkey products, which resulted from feared contamination with a drug resistant form of Salmonella, should have prompted action on antibiotic overuse in livestock. And in fact, last June, the FDA released their draft guidance, The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals. The guidelines outlined the need for factory farms and food producers to limit use of "medically significant" antibiotics important to human health. But nearly five months later, has the FDA acted?
The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals outlined the need to limit and phase out the use of antibiotics to accelerate the weight of livestock. This "sub-therapeutic" use of antibiotics is often administered to entire flocks or herds through feed or water and isn't directed toward a particular disease.
The FDA's draft guidance outlines that continual use of low dose antibiotics creates a breeding ground for drug resistance posing risks for humans and animals. When just one bacteria survives antibiotics it has the ability to multiply and create "superbugs" that can evade antibiotics.
The Impact of the New Guidelines
Even after the release of the guidelines, which the FDA hasn't set a timeline for, there's still more work to be done. The guidelines merely layout the opinion of the FDA and are yet unenforcible. The FDA's guidelines need to be followed up with rules that make the misuse and overuse of antibiotics by food producers unlawful, protecting human health from an onslaught of antibiotic resistance.
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