|FDA Reports to Slaughter: Over 70 Percent of Antibiotics Administered to Animals In Feed|
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28), the only microbiologist in Congress, verified a troubling new statistic with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA): 74 percent of antibiotics given to farm animals are sold for use via feed, a method of dispensation that has been linked to the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Another 16% were disseminated via water, and only 3% were sold for used via injection.
In a letter to Slaughter, the FDA reported that the bulk of antibiotics given to animals are distributed through medicated feed. This process results in inconsistent drug dosing, and can lead to antibiotic resistance among bacteria not eliminated by low doses of drugs.
“These statistics tell the tale of an industry that is rampantly misusing antibiotics in an attempt to cover up filthy, unsanitary living conditions among animals,” said Slaughter. “As they feed antibiotics to animals to keep them healthy, they are making our families sicker by spreading these deadly strains of bacteria. When we go to the grocery store to pick up dinner, we should be able to buy our food without worrying that eating it will expose our family to potentially deadly bacteria no longer responsive to medical treatments.”
Studies have shown inconsistent dosing to have wide ranging consequences. A recent article in Environmental Health Perspectives concluded that dispensing medication via feed “makes delivering a predictable, accurate, and intended dose difficult. Overdosing can lead to animal toxicity; underdosing or inconsistent dosing can result in a failure to resolve animal diseases and in the development of antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms.”
The FDA went on to confirm in its report that 80 percent of antibiotics are sold for use in agriculture. Slaughter released this information this past February and, for the first time, the FDA made public these statistics in an official report.
At the time Slaughter said, “We know that the widespread use of antibiotics on healthy animals is contributing to the growth of bacteria resistance to the drugs we use to treat humans. This poses particular risk to seniors and children. These new numbers make it clear that we need to take common sense steps to reduce the needless use of antibiotics in healthy animals, and protect human beings.”
The FDA also provided new data on antibiotic use in humans. These new data reveal that the penicillin class is the most common class at 44%, with cephalosporins being the second most common class at 15%. This highlights the importance of the current policy proposal under consideration at the FDA to ban off-label usage of cephalosporins in livestock production.
Since 2007, Congresswoman Slaughter has been the author of legislation titled The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), designed to ensure that we preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for the treatment of human disease.
For more on her work to protect public health, click here.