Dem pushes FDA to limit meat industry use of antibiotics

Rep. Louise SlaughterDorothy (Louise) Louise SlaughterNew York New Members 2019 Democrats see hypocrisy in GOP attacks on ‘liberal mob’ Poll: Dem leads by 24 points in race to replace Louise Slaughter MORE (D-N.Y.) is pressing the Food and Drug Administration to “protect antibiotics for human use,” and limit their role in the poultry and meat industry.

“Two million Americans are infected every year with antibiotic resistant infections and over 23,000 die because of them,” Slaughter said in statement. “This is a matter of life and death and it’s time for Congress and the FDA to get their heads out of the sand and take action.”

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The lawmaker is raising pressure on the agency to act after an investigation by Reuters found that the use of antibiotics by poultry farmers is more widespread than regulators believed.

The report revealed “widespread and indiscriminate” use of several antibiotics that are commonly prescribed to humans. Scientists warn that the widespread use of human-grade antibiotics can help create deadly superbugs that will be too strong for current medicines to kill.

The congresswoman, who is also a microbiologist, urged the Energy and Commerce Committee to address the issue at a hearing scheduled for Friday.

Slaughter has long raised the issue of antibiotic use in the meat industry. In 2013 she introduced a bill that would require the industry to be more transparent about its use of antibiotics and would restrict the use of eight classes of antibiotics commonly prescribed for people.

The FDA in 2013 implemented new guidelines to end the widespread use of antibiotics for farm animals. But Slaughter’s office said those “voluntary and unenforceable” regulations were not enough.

The Reuters report also reveals that the FDA has only tested seven percent of the 390 drugs that are cleared for use in the meat industry for their potential to spawn deadly superbugs.

Slaughter said the new report should spark public concern and lead to an end ofto the industry’s misuse of antibiotics.

“[The] industry has kept data showing the rampant, dangerous use of antibiotics hidden from the public for one reason: to protect corporate profits at the expense of public health,” she said.

Last month, Perdue Foods announced they would remove antibiotics from chicken hatcheries. The company said the move showed the industry was able to change without more regulations.