FDA Guidance: Non-Medical Antibiotic Use in Animals a Bad Idea

By Katherine Hobson
June 28, 2010, 3:11 PM ET

The FDA says that using antibiotics in animals simply to increase production or spur rapid growth is a public-health hazard.

This notion isn’t new to Michael Pollan acolytes or repeat readers of “Fast Food Nation,” but the fact that the FDA is issuing draft guidance on the issue signals it may be ready to take more aggressive measures — including instituting new rules — if voluntary efforts don’t succeed. “We’re not handcuffed to the steering wheel of a particular strategy at this point,” said Joshua Sharfstein, the agency’s principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs, in a conference call with reporters. “I’m not ruling out anything we could do to accomplish these important public-health goals.”

The concern is that the widespread use of antibiotics in both animals and people fosters resistance in the microbes that afflict humans, making infections more difficult and sometimes impossible to treat. (And, as we reported last year, resistance also makes infections more expensive to deal with.)

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