Results from Study of Antibiotic Resistance Threat in Food Animals

GAO study finds “limited progress” in federal response to growing antibiotic resistance threat.

| November 30, 2011

  • cows
    A study released in September 2011 found that the FDA's response to the increasing overuse of anitbiotics in food animals was far from adequate.

  • cows

Slaughter requested study in 2009 as part of her effort to limit looming public health threat; study released (September 2011) just days after second recall in a month of turkey meat containing antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28), Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, reiterated her call to limit the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study (September 2011) acknowledging that federal agencies are not doing enough to combat the growing threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria to public health.

The study, released by Slaughter's office, is titled, "Agencies Have Made Limited Progress Addressing Antibiotic Use in Animals," and was commissioned at Slaughter's urging in 2009.

In it, the GAO found that the federal agencies responsible for addressing the overuse of antibiotics in food animal production "lack crucial details" in data to do their job. The study also found significant holes in the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) voluntary guideline system for antibiotic use on farms that could allow industry to skirt around responsible use.

"This study reveals how unprepared we are to deal with the growing threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria and the American public should be outraged," said Slaughter. "We have had two massive meat recalls just in the last month showing salmonella strains resistant to antibiotics. Clearly there is an increasing public health threat here and we need more than 'limited progress' — we need concrete solutions like those proposed in my bill. I very much appreciate the GAO for conducting this multi-year-long study and think it is necessary that their findings be looked at carefully."

On Sept. 11, 2011, Cargill announced a second recall of ground turkey on the heels of an August recall, due to antibiotic resistant turkey products that have killed one and infected at least 107 people nationwide.

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