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Food and Drug Administration Not Required to Ban Antibiotics Given to Food-Producing Animals

October 5, 2014
Agriculture Blog Post

A federal appeals court recently ruled that the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") does not have to ban the practice of feeding antibiotics to healthy, food-producing animals. This ruling is controversial because of public health concerns that people are becoming increasingly resistant to the antibiotics that are used in food-producing animals. Antibiotics have regularly been used to boost animal growth.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC") report on antibiotic resistance found a link between antibiotic use in food-producing animals and the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans. The report proposed that antibiotics should be used only to manage and treat infectious diseases. The CDC estimates that at least 23,000 people die each year from antibiotic resistant infections.

This lawsuit was filed in 2011 by the National Resources Defense Council ("NRDC") and other public advocacy groups in an effort to force the FDA to ban the use of some antibiotics in food-producing animals and to withdraw approval of such drugs. The appeals court's recent ruling allows the FDA to retain broad discretion over this process.

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