Originally published in the American Feed Industry Association's (AFIA) Washington Wrap-up
By Steve Kopperud, AFIA government affairs consultant
In the on-going battle over the on-farm use of antibiotics in feed and water, FDA last week sent a letter to Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), author of legislation to ban the products in feed, saying 74% of antibiotics given to farm animals to prevent disease and increase growth are administered through feed, 16% are given through water and 3% are injectables.
The letter said 80% of antibiotics sold are used in agriculture, which Slaughter said confirms her allegations of overuse on farms. She said the letter verifies “troubling new statistics…a method of dispensation (sic) that has been linked to the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.”
Dr. Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in Washington, D.C., called the 80% figure touted by Slaughter “misleading,” because there are “billions more farm animals than people and pets.”
“On a per-pound basis, people and their pets use 10 times more antibiotics than farm animals,” Wagstrom said. “The 80% figure is just an estimate since FDA does not collect data on antibiotics sold for human medicine.”
While Slaughter says the use of antibiotics in feed leads to “inconsistent drug dosing,” Wagstrom said there’s no evidence of inconsistency. Feed mill mixing equipment is designed to add antibiotics and other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, in the proper amounts and FDA inspects feed mills, she said. She also pointed out there are several scientific risk assessments showing “virtually no risk to public health from antibiotic use in livestock."