Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Antibiotic Feed Ban?

I graduated from veterinary school in 1965 and one of the first seminars I attended was on antibiotic drug resistance with the idea of banning the use of antibiotics in livestock feed. Today (2005) forty years later, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) faces regulatory petition to ban antibiotics in the feed. Why? Are the proposed regulations politically motivated and unnecessary? Science versus politics? 

The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2005 was reintroduced in the Senate with a House companion expected to follow. Sponsored by Senator’s  Olympia Snowe and Edward Kennedy, the bill would phase out non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in feed over two years unless manufactures adequately demonstrate that specific drug uses do not promote resistance in humans. The petition and legislation targets penicillins, tetracyclines, macrolides, lincosamides, streptomycins, aminoglycosides, and sulfonamides. Since 1965, this issue has been proposed and scientific data has been presented to no avail. Science versus politics?

The Animal Health Institute (AHI) state “ Scientific evidence, including government monitoring and surveillance data, demonstrates the careful use of antibiotics in food animals has public health benefits that far out weigh the very small risks.” “ We oppose these misguided efforts and will continue to work to ensure the proper and careful use of antibiotics to keep food animals healthy and contribute to public health through the provision of a safe supply of meat, milk and eggs.”

As recent as October 2003, FDA’s use of Guidance #152 establishes safety criteria for evaluating antimicrobial drugs with regard to microbiological effects on bacteria and human health concerns. This establishes if there is a valid risk assessment done that show’s a significant problem, FDA has the power to deal with it. American Association of Bovine Practitioner’s (AABP) Executive Director, Dr. Gatz Riddell states, “ advocacy groups are blatantly against antimicrobials in production animals and this political pressure is based on distorted facts.”

I stay confused on this issue.

 In the April 15 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), which is published by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports that food borne infections caused by several bacterial pathogens are on the decline. The MMWR describes preliminary surveillance data for 2004 and compares them with baseline data gathered from 1996-1998.

The report states that the estimated incidence of infection with Campylobacter decreased 31 %, Crytosporidium and Listeria decreased 40 %, Shigatoxin producing Escherichia coli 0157 decreased 42 % and overall Salmonella infections decreased 8 %.

Although Salmonella incidence decreased overall, of the most common Salmonella serotypes, only the incidence of S. typhimurium decreased significantly, 41 %.

“Dramatic multiyear reductions in illnesses from E. coli 0157 mean the U. S. is now below Healthy People 2010 goal of 1.0 case per 100,000 persons. This is a remarkable national achievement, “ said Merle Pierson, PhD, USDA acting under secretary for food safety. “ We are also very close to meeting the Healthy People 2010 goal set for illness from Listeria monocytogenes and Camplobacter.”

The reductions in illnesses have occurred concurrently with several important food safety initiatives and educational efforts. (Not withdrawal of antibiotics) Multiple interventions that might have contributed to this decline include industry response to the FSIS 2002 notice to manufactures to reassess control strategies for STEC 0157 in the production of ground beef. Enhanced strategies for reducing pathogens in live cattle and during slaughter may have also played a role.

DVM Magazine; May 2005; Exclusive News
JAVMA Vol 226, No 11, News/Public Health

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