FDA refuses to ban antibiotics in livestock, resorts to voluntary phase out that will be ignored by industry
In a desperate attempt to avoid implementing an actual ban on the non-therapeutic use of antibiotic drugs in factory animal feed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has once again made it abundantly clear that it favors corporate interests over public health. In a recent announcement, the FDA publicly petitioned the factory food industry to voluntarily stop using antibiotics, claiming that this hands-off, non-regulatory approach will somehow be more effective at curbing antibiotic overuse than a mandatory ban would be.
The announcement comes just weeks after a federal judge took the FDA to task for its blatant disregard for public health, and ordered the agency to begin withdrawing approval for the non-therapeutic use of certain antibiotics in animal feed (http://www.ucsusa.org). But instead of stepping up to the plate to fulfill these federally-mandated legal duties, the FDA has instead chosen to stage a meaningless publicity stunt that will do absolutely nothing to fix the problem.
Meanwhile, the drug companies that produce penicillin and tetracycline, the two antibiotics ordered by the federal judge to be banned, have the opportunity to challenge the ruling. But if they fail at an evidentiary hearing to prove the drugs’ safe and effective use in animal feed, which they likely will be unable to do, then the FDA will not get away with simply requesting that the food industry withdraw the drugs’ use — on the contrary, the FDA will be required to ban their use in accordance with the law.