DATA Act would monitor antibiotic use

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – Two members of the US House of Representatives introduced a bill that would require “large-scale” meat and poultry producers to give detailed information to the Food and Drug Administration regarding the type and amount of antibiotics given to animals.

HR 820 — or the Delivering Antimicrobial Transparency in Animals (DATA) Act — also would require drug manufacturers to submit to the FDA information on how their antimicrobial drugs are used in food animals. Rep. Henry Waxman, Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member, and Rep. Louise Slaughter, Rules Committee Ranking Member, introduced the legislation.

“The widespread use of antibiotics in animals is a vital public health issue,” Rep. Waxman said. “We need to learn more about how these drugs are being used. With this information, scientists will be able to better pinpoint the relationship between the routine use of antibiotics in animals and the development of dangerous resistant bugs that can harm humans. This knowledge will inform scientists and Congress and start us down the path to sensible regulation.”

This is not the first attempt to force drug companies and food manufacturers to reveal information about antibiotics use in food animals. In December 2012, the Government Accountability Project initiated a lawsuit against the FDA over withholding agency data about the sale of food animal antibiotics. GAP made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act in 2011. But FDA ultimately denied the group’s request on claims the requested data contains confidential commercial information.

“We are on the cusp of a monumental public health crisis in America: the end of antibiotics as a tool for fighting disease,” said Rep. Slaughter, who is also a microbiologist. “Right now, 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are used not on humans but on food-animals, many of whom are already perfectly healthy; as a result, antibiotic-resistant bacteria now kill more Americans every year than HIV/AIDS. We must bring more attention to this issue before one of the most important breakthroughs in medical science — the discovery of antibiotics — is rendered obsolete.”

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