Representative Slaughter Criticizes FDA’s Inaction Concerning the Use of Antibiotics in Animal Agriculture

December 4, 2011

By Riëtte van Laack

Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) recently sent a 4-page letter to FDA expressing her discontent with the Agency’s action (or lack thereof) related to antibiotic use in animal agriculture.  Specifically, Rep. Slaughter criticizes:

1. FDA’s delay in finalizing the industry guidance #209, titled the Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals;

2. The lack of transparency in the annual report regarding antibiotic use in animals required by the Animal Drug User Fee Amendments (“ADUFA”); and

3. FDA’s rejection of two citizen petitions – see here – requesting that FDA withdraw approvals for the nontherapeutic use of certain antimicrobials in food producing animals.  (As we previously reported, both petitions are the subject of an ongoing lawsuit.) 

Rep. Slaughter urges FDA to follow the proactive precautionary principle allegedly used in European and Asian countries.  

Citing a recent report by Tufts University School of Medicine concerning the correlation between antibiotic use in food animals and antibiotic ineffectiveness in humans and the recent outbreak related to antibiotic-resistant Salmonella causing 136 people to be infected Slaughter urges FDA to take action.  She requests that FDA provides additional details concerning the use of certain antibiotics above and beyond what ADUFA requires, and provide additional details concerning the use of antibiotics in food producing animals and the type and amount of antibiotics used in human medicine.  Rep. Slaughter also questions FDA’s explanation for the publication of a revised report on the 2010 ADUFA sales data. 

Reminding FDA of its public mandate to protect pubic health rather than protect agriculture industry, Rep. Slaughter requests the Agency take action.

Rep. Slaughter has a long history of interest in antibiotic use in food producing animals.  She is the sponsor of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, which would, among other things, phase out the non-therapeutic use in livestock of medically important antibiotics.