Updated: May 23, 2012 8:13AM
The Chicago-based Food Animal Concerns Trust is not swallowing the government’s reasoning for asking meat and poultry producers to stop giving antibiotics to their animals to make them grow faster.
The Food and Drug Administration’s reason: Dangerous bacteria that can kill people have been growing resistant to the drugs, which can leave humans at risk of getting infections that can’t be controlled.
A recent announcement by the FDA, which asks producers to make the change voluntarily, comes two years after the agency declared that using antibiotics in food-producing animals “is not in the interest of protecting and promoting the public health.”
“This is a sea change,” says Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods. “We’re finally ready to put this issue behind us.”
But the Food Animal Concerns Trust is not buying it. “They’ll just stop marketing drugs as growth promoters and instead market them for disease prevention at exactly the same doses and same period of use,” says Steve Roach, the Trust’s public health program director.
The Trust says an estimated 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are fed to chickens, hogs, and beef cattle.
“The majority of these important drugs are not used to treat disease but rather to promote growth and to compensate for the crowded, stressful, and unsanitary conditions on factory farms,” the 30-year-old organization says in a fact sheet.
Antibiotics have been added to animal feed and water since the 1960s, when it was found that very low, long-term doses not only kept animals from getting sick but also made them grow faster.
Gannett News Service