U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate the safety risks to human health associated with the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals. According to the Manhattan Judge, the agency has done – shockingly little – since proposing in the 1970s to order a substantial reduction in the use of antibiotics in animal feed.
Katz rejected FDA’s argument that it had addressed the threat from antibiotics by initiating a voluntary program that encourages the industry to use the drugs – judiciously – because public hearings would consume extensive periods of time and agency resources. In its failure to act, Katz wrote – the agency avoided the Congressionally mandated scheme for addressing drugs not shown to be safe.
The issue focuses mainly on the use of penicillin and two forms of tetracycline in animal feed. Studies have shown that antibiotics used in animal feed are likely to lead to drug-resistant superbugs that can spread to humans.