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Congresswoman Louise Slaughter

Representing the 25th District of New York

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter Reacts to Proposed Rule from FDA on Antibiotic Use in Livestock

May 19, 2015
Press Release
Reintroduces Legislation to Increase Transparency into Antibiotic Use in Animals

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-25) reacted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s proposed rule regarding Section 105 of the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA), which regulates information that must be released about antibiotic use in animal agriculture. For the first time, the FDA will be requiring food producers to break down their usage estimates by species (cattle, swine, chicken, and turkey). While this is information that Congresswoman Slaughter has long called upon the FDA to require from food producers, the rule does not go far enough to ensure that the “disease prevention loophole” left by Guidance 213 is not being exploited. Information about indication of use, or the reason the drugs are being used with that species, would be necessary to ensure that food producers have not merely switched terms from “growth promotion” to “disease prevention” and are continuing to use antibiotics at their current rates. The FDA itself has publically stated this information is needed, but once again lets industry off the hook with the proposed rule.

“As I have been saying for far too long, antibiotic resistance is a crisis that demands our full and immediate attention, especially the overuse on the farm where 80 percent of antibiotics in this country are used,” said Congresswoman Slaughter. "Knowing how much of the drugs are being used in cattle or pork or poultry will be helpful in identifying the problem areas, but it won’t change the fact that we are frittering away one of our most precious resources for human health. I will continue to call on the FDA to make all the changes necessary to meet their mandate of protecting the public health."

As a blueprint for what should be done, Congresswoman Slaughter reintroduced the Delivering Antimicrobial Transparency in Animals Act (DATA), which would provide better information to the public about how antibiotics are being used in animals raised for human consumption. The bill would codify the FDA’s new proposed rule requiring reporting of antibiotic use by species, but it would also require reporting the reason for use. Without this data, there is no method to independently verify the phasing out of growth promotion uses the FDA requested under voluntary guidance 213, or recently announced industry efforts by Tyson, Perdue, and McDonald’s to phase out the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in the production of chicken.

Today, 80 percent of antibiotics in the United States are used on healthy farm animals. Yet surveillance and research into antibiotic use in food-animal production receives less than ten percent of funding devoted to the same activities in human medicine. The collection of detailed data on antibiotic use in food-animal production can identify high-risk situations and practices, and focus limited resources on developing new vaccines and alternative management practices.  

As the only microbiologist in Congress, Congresswoman Slaughter has been a champion in leading efforts to curtail the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in human health and food-animal production. Earlier this year, she reintroduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), which would require enforceable, verifiable limits of antibiotic use on farms. Last week, Congresswomen Slaughter and Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) reintroduced the Pathogen Reduction and Testing Reform Act (PRTRA), which would keep Americans safe by strengthening the ability of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to recall contaminated meat, poultry, and eggs.