Congress’s antibiotics champion blasted the legislature and federal regulators Thursday after the European Union announced a five-year plan for phasing out their preventive use in animal agriculture.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the only microbiologist in Congress, has long fought for stronger regulations that would ban the use of certain antibiotics on healthy animals. The food and drug industries say antibiotics keep animals — and consumers — healthy, but public health experts say their overuse contributes to the development of potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The EU announced the plan on European Antibiotic Awareness Day, which coincides with Get Smart About Antibiotics Week in the United States. It comes after the Government Accountability Office in September released a report concluding that the federal agencies responsible for addressing the overuse of antibiotics in food-animal production “lack crucial details” in data to do their job.
“It’s a shame that after all these years the US is still caught flat-footed,” Slaughter said in a news release. “We’ve known that this is a problem for quite some time. And we’re totally unprepared to deal with the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, as was confirmed by the GAO, by not even collecting the necessary data. The American public should be outraged.”