Environmental Protection

NRDC Warns FDA Approved Livestock Antibiotics Harmful to Humans

The council's report says despite knowledge that certain livestock antibiotics were not necessarily safe for human consumption, the FDA allowed their use.

A new National Resources Defense Council report released this week alleges that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been allowing the use of 30 penicillin and tetracycline antibiotic feed additives that could be exposing humans to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. FDA reviewed 30 antibiotic feed additives (approved for non-therapeutic use, which means preventing disease or promoting growth) between 2001 and 2010 that most likely would not be approved as new additives if submitted for use today, according to NRDC.

NRDC acquired the "previously undisclosed" documents from FDA by submitting a FOIA request to the agency. The documents indicated 18 of the 30 feed additives posed a high risk for humans exposed to them. Only two of the 30 would still be approved for use today, according to NRDC. The remaining drugs lacked adequate data for reviewers to comment on. The NRDC's report also states there is evidence that suggests "26 of the reviewed feed additives do not satisfy even the safety standards set by FDA in 1973."

The report states that FDA has taken no action since the reviews to revoke the approval of any of the antibiotics, although two were voluntarily withdrawn by their manufacturers. NRDC reported it has evidence that nine of the additives are still being marketed, and the antibiotics in question make up nearly half of all antibiotics used in animal agriculture today.

NRDC alleges "the FDA's failure to act on its own findings about the 30 reviewed antibiotic feed additives is part of a larger pattern of delay and inaction in tackling livestock drug use that goes back four decades."

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