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The FDA Needs to Collect Critical Data on Antibiotic Use on Farms

Guest Post: Madeleine Klevent, Safe & Healthy Food Program Associate, Food Animal Concerns Trust.

Antibiotic use, especially overuse in animal agriculture, is a primary selective force behind the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. In order to combat the spread of resistance, antibiotic stewardship - stopping the overuse of antibiotics - is essential. However, veterinary antibiotic use and stewardship cannot be optimized without measurement. It is impossible to know if efforts to reduce the overuse of antibiotics are effective or creating meaningful change over time, if there is no actual data on how antibiotics are being used.

Largely because of efforts from FACT and our allies, the FDA currently collects data on sales of antibiotics. It reports how much of a certain antibiotic was sold for use in food production and relies on estimates to know which animals are receiving the drug. Though these data are useful to have, they give absolutely no indication of why an antibiotic is being used (what disease it is treating), truly what animal is being given the antibiotic, or when (or how long) an animal is receiving it. Despite the FDA’s consistently touted goal to collect data on how and why antibiotics are being used on farms, here we are 20 years later without a program in place. Read more.

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