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NPPC: GAO Report on Antibiotic Resistance

by 5m Editor
26 September 2011, at 12:09pm

US - A new report from the US Government Accountability Office has called for government and food industry bodies to track the effectiveness of policies to curb antibiotic resistance, including FDA's voluntary strategy designed to reduce antibiotic use in food animals.

The GAO has called on the authorities to identify potential approaches for collecting detailed data on antibiotic use in food animals, including the species in which antibiotics are used and the purpose for their use, as well as the costs, time frames, and potential trade-offs associated with each approach.

It also wants to see the authorities collaborate with industry to select the best approach and to seek any resources necessary to implement the approach.

The report also recommends that the data should be used to assess the effectiveness of policies to curb antibiotic resistance.

However, the NPPC has hit back at the report.

NPPC President Doug Wolf said: "Not only is there no scientific study linking antibiotic use in food animals to antibiotic resistance in humans, as the US pork industry has continually pointed out, but there isn’t even adequate data to conduct a study.

"The GAO report on antibiotic resistance issued today confirms this, concluding that the limited data collected ‘lack crucial details necessary to examine trends and understand the relationship between use and resistance.’

"The pork industry long has supported the federal antibiotic-resistance monitoring programme.

"Further, pork producers use antibiotics responsibly under veterinary supervision to keep their hogs healthy and to produce safe pork. They follow use and withdraw protocols set by FDA, which approves all animal health products after rigorously testing them to ensure their safety for animals, humans and the environment."

The GAO report says: "Antibiotics have saved millions of lives, but antibiotic use in food animals contributes to the emergence of resistant bacteria that may affect humans. The Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) are primarily responsible for ensuring food safety. GAO reviewed the issue in 2004 and recommended improved data collection and risk assessment. GAO was asked to examine the (1) extent to which agencies have collected data on antibiotic use and resistance in animals, (2) actions HHS's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took to mitigate the risk of antibiotic resistance in humans as a result of use in animals, (3) extent to which agencies have researched alternatives to current use practices and educated producers and veterinarians about appropriate use, and (4) actions the European Union (EU) and an EU member country, Denmark, have taken to regulate use in animals and lessons that have been learned. GAO analyzed documents, interviewed officials from national organizations, and visited producers in five states and Denmark."

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by the US GAO by clicking here.