by Ruth Reichl
New York Times
EVERY year, antibiotic-resistant infections kill at least 23,000 Americans and make another two million sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s why a recent ruling by the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals is so appalling.
It allows the federal Food and Drug Administration to leave an antibiotic used in animal feed on the market even if the agency openly states that the drug’s use is not safe and increases the risk of antibiotic resistance in people. This means that the dangerous misuse of antibiotics in industrial livestock and poultry can continue unabated.
For years industrial meat and poultry producers have fed healthy animals antibiotics to fatten them up fast. The antibiotics also prevent disease in what are often overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. This practice breeds antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten us all.
While prescribing unnecessary antibiotics to people is one widely known cause of the problem, the C.D.C. and leading medical groups have identified the misuse of drugs in livestock and poultry operations as another important contributor.
Food should be delicious. It should also be good for you. We shouldn’t have to worry that we’re endangering our health each time we put a morsel of meat into our mouths. Rather than protecting the unsafe practices of the country’s animal agriculture industry, it’s time the F.D.A. followed its mandate and put America’s health first.