US: GAO can't find link between antibiotic use in food animals and human resistance
Posted: September 15th, 2011 - 10:25am
A report issued today by the Government Accountability Office concluded there isn’t sufficient data to study a link between antibiotic use in food animals to antibiotic resistance in humans.
The report comes amid attempts in Congress to restrict use of antibiotics in food animals; supporting legislators point to other reports claiming there is such a link.
GAO concluded USDA and Health and Human Services have collected some data on antibiotic use in food animals and on resistant bacteria in animals and retail meat, but said "these data lack crucial details necessary to examine trends and understand the relationship between use and resistance."
“Not only is there no scientific study linking antibiotic use in food animals to antibiotic resistance in humans, as the U.S. pork industry has continually pointed out, but there isn’t even adequate data to conduct a study,” National Pork Producers Council President Doug Wolf said in a news release issued in response to the report.
“The GAO report on antibiotic resistance issued today confirms this..." he added.
NPPC noted the pork industry has long supported the federal antibiotic-resistance program, and that pork producers administer the drugs responsibly under veterinary supervision under FDA-approved protocols to help their animals stay healthy and produce safe pork.
The GAO report notes HHS and USDA have worked to research alternatives to current antibiotic use practices and to educate producers and veterinarians on appropriate use of antibiotics. However, the extent of such efforts are unclear because the agencies haven't assessed their effectiveness, limiting their ability to identify gaps where more research may be needed.
Editor's note: A spokesperson for the GAO confirmed the report was issued today and provided a copy to Meatingplace, but it had yet to be posted on the agency's website (www.gao.gov) as of press time. It will be posted today, she said.