U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) has released the responses to a February 16, 2012, letter sent to 60 food producers and retailers “asking them to disclose their policies on antibiotic use in meat and poultry production.” After analyzing the results, Slaughter has purportedly revealed that “while a small number of industry leaders provide antibiotic-free meat and poultry products, an overwhelming majority of food production companies routinely feed low-doses of antibiotics to healthy food-animals.”
In particular, Slaughter has used these findings to bolster support for the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), “which would end the routine use of antibiotics on healthy animals” and “preserve the effectiveness of medically important antibiotics.” To this end, she has also highlighted a recent Consumers Union report, “Meat On Drugs,” as evidence that consumers would purchase antibiotic-free products in supermarkets. “Through my survey, the food industry has provided us valuable information, and with that knowledge we must act,” said Slaughter. “I urge consumers to consider today’s findings when shopping, and I urge the FDA and my colleagues in Congress to strengthen our laws in order to fight the growing threat of superbugs. Until we do, the routine use of antibiotics will continue to breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten human health.” Additional details about Slaughter’s food industry survey appear in Issue 428 of this Update.